May 3, 2011

Why Americans Dislike Atheists - Two Views, One Subtle The Other Bare-Knuckle

I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours. - Stephen F. Roberts

Atheism in America, FT Magazine, February 3, 2011
A New Fox Poll on Evolution, National Center for Science Education, September 7, 2011
Why U.S. Is Not a Christian Nation by Kenneth C. Davis, CNN Opinion, July 4, 2011
A.C. Grayling:  "How can you be a militant atheist?  It's like sleeping furiously," The Guardian, April 3, 2011

Atheists fed up?  Believe it! by Gregory Paul, The Washington Post, June 16, 2011

Why do Americans still dislike atheists? by Gregory Paul and Phil Zuckerman, The Washington Post, April 29, 2011

"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."
"As with other national minority groups, atheism is enjoying rapid growth. Despite the bigotry, the number of American nontheists has tripled as a proportion of the general population since the 1960s. Younger generations’ tolerance for the endless disputes of religion is waning fast. Surveys designed to overcome the understandable reluctance to admit atheism have found that as many as 60 million Americans — a fifth of the population — are not believers. Our nonreligious compatriots should be accorded the same respect as other minorities."
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A more in-depth, less polite (to put it mildly) treatment of religion, what atheism is today, and why so many Americans have misconceptions about it can be found in A Voice of Reason in an Unreasonable World:  The Rise of Atheism on Planet Earth by Al Stefanelli (2011).  Stefanelli is a journalist and a former Baptist minister, preacher and evangelist.  He became an atheist and founded the United Atheist Front in 2005.

Stefanelli's primary target is fundamentalist Islam and Christianity in contrast to the more moderate people of faith or mainstream believers:  "While a person of faith may be naive on a given subject or topic," he says, "the fundamentalist is often willfully ignorant or in complete denial."  Though Stefanelli is careful to make this distinction and single our fundamentalists for the brunt of his attack throughout most of his book, his disdain for religion in general is clear.

Stefanelli makes no distinction between "non-theists" and "atheists" as I do in my essay "Secular Truth and Morality".

Despite numerous typographical/proofreading errors, Stefanelli's book is a very good treatment of the more strident and confrontational approach to atheism and what it is up against in the modern world.  The following sums up his view of atheism and its role in the emergence of a secular global morality and civilization:

"Atheism is on the rise on planet earth.  To the Muslim extremist and to the Christian fundamentalist, atheism represents the single most dangerous threat against each of their goals to dominate the planet.  We do not scare easily and do not cower to threats of hell and damnation.  We are painfully aware that as long as the fundamentalist Christian maintains that they are the one true faith and all others are destined for divine destruction, the more emboldened the Islamic extremists are becoming in pointedly defying that claim with the use of terrorism.

"I don't know what the solution is to the impending destruction of the human race over who has the truer imaginary friend, but I do know this.  The solution is going to have to come form us, my fellow atheists."

Among Stefanelli's chapter titles are:

"All Believers Are Not Created Equal"
"Morality Defined"
"The Immorality Of Christian Morality"
"The Evil OF Evangelism"
"Atheism Is Not A Religion, Christian Persecution, Diplomacy"
"The Incompatibility Of Faith And Reason"
"The United States Isn't A Christian Nation"


Mark said...

Hi Jim, hope you've got time to read my post. Like your site that I stumbled across somewhere around early 2012. I'd like to buy your book but I don't know how to do the 'Kindle' so can you make your books available as a non-kindle or something? Thanks. Mark Sorby

Jim Lassiter said...

Thanks, Mark. Glad you like my blog. You don't have to own a Kindle reader to purchase and read the book. If you open an account with them, offers a free downloadable Kindle book reader software app for PCs: Cheers! Jim

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