Over at Psychology Today, American Humanist Association David Niose has an excellent article going over the endless hostility non-believers face. The problem? Fundamentalist religion stokes it, and liberal religion condones it.
Discrimination against nonbelievers in America is so overt and widespread that most of us are completely desensitized to it.
If you’re a rational American – religious or nonreligious – you probably roll your eyes when you hear fundamentalist preachers and right-wing politicians rant in the name of God whenever a major tragedy occurs. But do you stop to consider that their comments directly disparage nonbelievers? If these preachers and politicians directly attacked Hindus, Jews, or Muslims the way they attack atheists-humanists, they would be quickly called out for their hateful prejudice. So why should their anti-secular venom be tolerated?
These statements outrage most rational Americans, both religious and nonreligious, but many still overlook the blatant prejudice.
Atheists and humanists find it frustrating that statements such as those of Huckabee, Dobson, and Gingrich are almost never criticized by religious liberals for promoting a hateful prejudice against nonbelievers (who are already the most disliked and distrusted minority in the country).
Let’s be clear about something: Huckabee and company, with very little ambiguity, are claiming that those who live without God-belief are directly or indirectly responsible for violence and moral decline. This is discriminatory, contrary to the pluralistic values of modern society, and provably false.
It’s great that many Americans, even those who are religious, find the statements of Huckabee and company objectionable, but it’s unfortunate that the objections focus on the wrong issue. Rather than argue about whether God is jealous and vindictive or loving and compassionate (or at least in addition to that argument), Americans should be calling out fundamentalists for depicting nonbelievers as agents of evil.
I am not surprised one bit that religious liberals never speak a word in defense of nonbelievers. In fact I would be more surprised if they did. All religions, conservative and liberal alike, name faith as the source of morality. If that is true, then those of us who don’t believe have to be evil. There is no way to square that circle.
That is one more reason I lean more toward the in-your-face approach of Richard Dawkins. As long as followers of liberal religion do not speak out against the bile directed at atheists by their fundamentalist brethren (which they seemingly never will), they are part of the problem.
(Image credit: Washington Post, American Humanist Association)