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Atheism's open-door policy

On Friday, Cif belief editor Andrew Brown wrote, "It is entirely possible that Ariane Sherine's book on enjoying an atheist Christmas will sell this Christmas; but come the new year, it won't be found on the bookshelf in the toilet but in lavatories nicely warmed by Agas." His assertion is that atheists (or "new atheists", as he confusingly calls us – are we the ones who refuse to stay quiet?) are "educated and professional" snobs, and that we use our lack of belief as an excuse to look down on people who are working class: "Obviously, it is no longer done to sneer at the working classes for being idle, brutish, smelly, and breeding too much. But it's perfectly OK to sneer at 'faith heads' for all these things: that shows you're enlightened. It's pure coincidence that the despicable believers are for the most part lower class as well."

This line of thinking is puzzling and wrong on every level. The atheists I know have only one thing in common: we don't believe in God. Beyond that, there are very few generalisations anyone can make – our social class, ethnic backgrounds and political views are often extremely disparate (though there is a definite correlation between atheism and being a liberal – that is, believing that everyone has the right to do and say whatever they like and express themselves as they choose, so long as their actions are peaceful and don't hurt anyone). As he himself has come out on this site as an atheist, it is baffling that the majority of Andrew's pieces seem to lambast atheists, when the sole criterion for being one is merely accepting the truth as science reveals it.
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