Pharyngula

Why, oh why, did you have to disillusion me, Ebonmuse? And to slap me upside the face with a study from my own university, no less.

From a telephone sampling of more than 2,000 households, university researchers found that 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.

Oh. Well. That explains the tears and yelling from the in-laws-to-be 26 years ago last week.

Knowing how most Americans regard Muslims and homosexuals, though, it’s rather scary to see us ranked below them.

Edgell also argues that today’s atheists play the role that Catholics, Jews and communists have played in the past–they offer a symbolic moral boundary to membership in American society. “It seems most Americans believe that diversity is fine, as long as every one shares a common ‘core’ of values that make them trustworthy–and in America, that ‘core’ has historically been religious,” says Edgell. Many of the study’s respondents associated atheism with an array of moral indiscretions ranging from criminal behavior to rampant materialism and cultural elitism.

And we’re even worse than Communists! Jebus. What have we done to America?

Criminal behavior? They’ve confused us with Republicans. Rampant materialism? I thought that was the American way! And again, they’ve confused us with Republicans. Cultural elitism? Umm, well. Hmm. That one fits, I suppose, but why would anyone think that was a bad thing?

Comments

  1. #1 Glen Davidson
    March 22, 2006

    I expect the “You think you’re so smart” comments are the most revealing. I don’t know if atheists are so much hated, as feared. With religion being very persistent, yet regularly flouted and disrespected by academics and others, people are stuck with their religions without feeling very comfortable about them.

    Plus, what’s an “atheist” anyhow? I’d fit the definitions of “atheist” according to many, yet I neither call myself “atheist”, nor do I think of myself that way (mostly for philosophical reasons). Which means that my skepticism doesn’t bother most people, including the fundamentalists in my family. The iconic “atheists” are Madalyn Murray O’Hair (not a likable woman), people who have nothing better to do than to worry about “under God” in the pledge or “in God we trust” on coins, and to some, Richard Dawkins (who really doesn’t know much about religion). The local professor who doesn’t bother with religion isn’t generally hated for it, yet many continue to fear the unknown threat that people more intellectual themselves might unleash on their particular beliefs.

    The last thing that we have any business doing is feeling sorry for ourselves. We have power in our lack of religion, and we know it. Having the intellect and strength to disagree with the majority, I would even say that we are respected (even if media hound atheists may not be), feared to some extent, and mostly “hated” only for our ability to do what many religionists wish on some level that they could do, leave behind the threats and restrictions of religion.

    We are not courageous for taking up a position which stands out and which cannot be shown to be wrong. In some places, usually desirable places, the secular uniform is in fact the best one to wear for pretty much anything. Phillip Johnson noted this fact, and being the weasel that he is, he was irreligious when it benefited him the most. I know the story, of course, that he was “converted”, but don’t ever believe that it had much to do with anything except getting by comfortably in another context, as well as launching his own despicable grab for power, an “alternative science”.

    And let’s face it, how much does it bother us if the herd “hates us”? Get real, most of us like it. Except for a very small number of “atheists”, there is little if any downside to it, and we receive much of what we want by thumbing our noses at religion.

    The sad fact, however, is that superstition continues to afflict the populace at large. We should not enjoy being “hated” so much that we provoke reactions from the religionists, rather we should undermine religion judiciously for the sake of a more intelligent society.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

  2. #2 ševiri
    January 9, 2008

    I wish that I believed thatthe survey was false…

  3. #3 ševiri
    January 9, 2008

    I wish that I believed thatthe survey was false…

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