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Rich Wiltshir's Avatar Comment 1 by Rich Wiltshir

At the end of last year I met a large proportion of my birth father's family. Because my protests against religion are a significant drive of my personality, I was keen to make declare my atheism in the most neutral tone. I anticipated that, as they all live in an historic and small UK cathedral city, most would be discomforted by my atheism so an early declaration was the most honest approach.

Each of them said they agreed with me.

My late wife used to fear for my welfare when I started wearing Atheist Bus Campagne badges. In the years I've worn them and challenged street preachers there have been less than a hand full of disagreements or challenges.

I love the UK, have no desire to travel off he shores, but if I visited the US it would be to experience the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone National Park and gain an insight into the incredible stupidity, bigotry and false testament of southern religious culture. Surely there are great lessons in all these things, of which only one can be hoped or provoked to change for the better.

A touching article. Thanks for posting it.

Mon, 06 Feb 2012 13:35:27 UTC | #915013

Nunbeliever's Avatar Comment 2 by Nunbeliever

Godlessness is the last big taboo in the US

Not at all. The one big taboo that Americans just don't seem to be able to get rid of is that of extreme individualism and that laissez-faire capitalism can solve any problem on earth. The government is always bad and the word socialism (however mildly the term is used) is seen as the great evil in this world.

The irony of course is that the same Americans who despise the government more than anything don't seem to have any problem at all with handing over their lives to big corporations (or the army, which in some peculiar way is not regarded as a part of the evil government).

Yes, religious fundamentalism is a big problem in USA. But, it's nothing in comparison to the real problem. The fact that USA is an utterly corrupt country and people are generally too brain-washed to really see what's happening.

Most Americans for example despise the Occupy Wallstreet movement. Supporters are seen as commie hippies! "How dare they attack the JOB CREATORS! No, the White House is the problem!" This is so absurd. Somehow corporations can actively corrupt politicians in order to get benefits while they bring down the whole economy and get bailed out... and somehow that's just normal behaviour for corporations. The government allowed it to happen. YES, the government allowed it to happen because they've been bought by the corporations! According to polls most Americans don't blame the corporations. They blame the government... so the solution is to deregulate even more! As if that would magically somehow make things better. Yes, take away the only institution that can prevent corporations from exploting the people completely.

Yes, the US government does not represent the people anymore. But, the solution is not to minimize the government. The solution is smart regulation, which is the main objective of the Occupy Wallstreet movement. Still, these intiatives are seen as communist propaganda. Tha's how brainwashed the majorioty of the American people is... and this goes for self-proclaimed rationalists or atheists as well. Most of you are no better in this regard.

Yes, this comment is a bit off topic... but I find it relevant in that regard that this article shows how deluded even many rationalists and atheists are in America. Religion is nowadays on the radar but the main problem in USA is not... and probably won't be for a very long time! Well you get what you deserve, but please don't bring down the rest of the world as well!

Btw, that "big L" she's talking about should not be about her being a lesbian. The real taboo is to be a liberal!

Mon, 06 Feb 2012 13:58:52 UTC | #915016

Moderator's Avatar Comment 3 by Moderator

Moderators' message

PLEASE do not derail this thread onto left/right wing politics! It is about atheism, not how to run an economy.

Thank you!

The Moderators

Mon, 06 Feb 2012 14:25:59 UTC | #915025

strangebrew's Avatar Comment 4 by strangebrew

I am of the totally unsubstantiated opinion that there are far more atheistic attitudes in the bible belt then anyone could possibly contemplate or indeed realise.

A very significant pressure is to not be a target or singled out from the crowd.

Anonymity is in camouflage...in a society that is seemingly dominated by religion it would be safer to pretend then to actually take it seriously. No one says a word to anyone, not even family members, not a hint...fear is a powerful and unforgiving tool of the oppressor. The ironic thing would be that if everyone felt that way then presumed peer pressure would result in a significant percentage that are keeping stum...even from each other.! A typical Baptist church might harbour over 50% atheists on any single Sunday...now that would be weird...and ultimately extremely sad if not poignant.

But as I say...this scenario is unevidenced...but they say fact is far stranger then fiction.

Mon, 06 Feb 2012 15:08:16 UTC | #915036

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 5 by Alan4discussion

@OP - “I’ve been told things like ‘I hope you have an accident, die and go to hell.’ So that’s what I’ve been up against.”

Whilst all the troooooo believers go to fairyland, and live on happy pills for the rest of their non-existence!

Mon, 06 Feb 2012 15:20:12 UTC | #915040

rationalmind's Avatar Comment 6 by rationalmind

Comment 4 by strangebrew :

I am of the totally unsubstantiated opinion that there are far more atheistic attitudes in the bible belt then anyone could possibly contemplate or indeed realise.

A very significant pressure is to not be a target or singled out from the crowd.

Anonymity is in camouflage...in a society that is seemingly dominated by religion it would be safer to pretend then to actually take it seriously. No one says a word to anyone, not even family members, not a hint...fear is a powerful and unforgiving tool of the oppressor. The ironic thing would be that if everyone felt that way then presumed peer pressure would result in a significant percentage that are keeping stum...even from each other.! A typical Baptist church might harbour over 50% atheists on any single Sunday...now that would be weird...and ultimately extremely sad if not poignant.

But as I say...this scenario is unevidenced...but they say fact is far stranger then fiction.

Well as we all know the Baptist minister might even be an atheist! The RDFRS is working to help some. I live in the UK and it is very common to be open about non-belief here. There are a lot more atheists in America than are apparent. Since non-belief is correlated with education there will be a lot of educated people who are sceptical about religion. President Obama had two parents who were not religious. It makes you wonder if a smart guy like him really believes that a supreme being would send his son to be tortured to death to atone for the behaviour for a talking snake in a magical garden. Of course there is one candidate for president that actually believes that the magical garden was in Missouri!

I think the key to this is to carry on putting up the billboards and doing the busses. When people realise they are not alone they will come out of the closet.

Mon, 06 Feb 2012 15:48:08 UTC | #915049

stellier68's Avatar Comment 7 by stellier68

@ moderator

Comment 3 by Moderator :

Moderators' message PLEASE do not derail this thread onto left/right wing politics! It is about atheism, not how to run an economy.

Thank you!

The Moderators

Allow me to disagree here, being an Atheist in USA is very much a political subject as was quoted by S. Harris in the article and as Nunbeliever so very well described. USA has no real "democracy" and that has polarized everything in 2 camps: The "yay" and the "nay". The moment an issue is defended by one party, the other party turns it down and that's the main issue with Atheism and secularity in general: it's undefended ! Bi-Partisan "democracy" is not about defending ideas... It's about being popular, and like it or not but "American Jesus" is a very popular fellow.

Myself, being Canadian and travelling a lot in the US, I have been in many situations like Mr Purdy is describing. When I have to reveal (that's the correct word) that I do not believe in god, I get people on the defensive right away, looking at me weird and asking stuff like: " But then what do you believe in?" NOTHING, lol I honestly think that most American (the one I have to deal with, anyway) are not so much shocked by having to deal with an "atheist" as to having to deal with someone who is open and unashamed of it...

Thinking about it, telling a believer that we are atheist is a "polite" way of telling them they're "dumb" or "deluded" or at least "VERY badly informed" but you know what : WE'RE RIGHT !

Mon, 06 Feb 2012 16:04:34 UTC | #915055

Perfect Tommy's Avatar Comment 8 by Perfect Tommy

I am trying to understand the troglodyte behavior/reasoning behind the idea that someone would wish that someone would die in an accident and go to hell for dare saying they don't believe in a god. Why? If you were a true believer, you wouldn't need to get rid of the temptation of someone saying something like that that might make you think. You should be able to withstand the idea that there is no god. If you want someone dead because they lack faith, then YOU are the problem. If your a true believer, you would have the discipline to be able to stand up straight against the wind of disagreement.

A real priest, who is supposedly celibate, should be able to walk through an orgy of people having sex without even the hint of an erection. But, that is never the case. Why? Because they wouldn't be able to. And so what do these "true believers" do when confronted with something that is "tempting", or contrary to their systems of belief? They want to get rid of it, squash it to bits, because THEY lack the discipline to withstand the temptation. Disgusting. There is no difference whatsoever in what that person thinks than what the Taliban do. Only difference is the hats they wear.

Mon, 06 Feb 2012 16:08:13 UTC | #915056

SheilaC's Avatar Comment 9 by SheilaC

She couldn’t babysit as an atheist, but she could when she was on crack? “Yes.”

That's some seriously mixed up parents.

Mon, 06 Feb 2012 16:18:55 UTC | #915057

potteryshard's Avatar Comment 10 by potteryshard

As a long time atheist (okay, okay... a very long time atheist) I have always stumbled up against the religious blinders placed by the churches. An even bigger problem however, seems to be that atheism or free-thinkng is simply not seen as an alternate viewpoint... It seems instead to be seen as having absolutely no convictions at all.

This is particularly pernicious in that a carefully thought out philosophy gets understood as having no thought whatsoever. I suspect that a big part of that mass mindset is that atheists have been far too genteel in advertising their conviction and fervor for evidence-based thought systems.

I feel that Americans as a whole neither respect or relate to subtle, gentle, and thoughtful advertising and or commentary. One has only to look at the bulldozer-like publicity and pronouncements routinely offered by religion to see a model for advertising that works here.

My own dream has been to sponsor a billboard featuring a giant picture of a runny, ripe, cowpie with a non-smiley face drawn on it. The caption would read: Religion: There's no way to put a happy face on it.

Mon, 06 Feb 2012 16:22:19 UTC | #915058

Universeman's Avatar Comment 11 by Universeman

I have been very vocal about my atheism since my deconversion from Mormonism last summer, a wonderful and beautiful thing, but of the handful of people I have confided in regarding my disbelief (I still go to church, which is actually quite fun now from a sociological perspective btw) I have yet to meet a no shit atheist face to face, I know your out there fellow atheists and I'm still looking. At any rate I am currently taking classes at the NMSU Alamogordo campus, starting fall semester I will be taking classes at the main campus in Las Cruces (Psychology major) and there is a active atheist group up there I found through the atheist nexus. I must agree that at least right now I am becoming more and more cautious about who I will tell that I am an atheist, so far I have only found people who are tolerant but not quite fully accepting of my atheism.

Mon, 06 Feb 2012 16:47:38 UTC | #915063

achromat666's Avatar Comment 12 by achromat666

I've mentioned in the past my issues with attending funerals for family members because it always entails my travelling to NC and dealing with my uber religious relatives down there and the resulting church madness that ensues. Having been and atheist for some 20 plus years now its a very bizarre thing to observe up front with such a detachment from it. And equally dsiturbing is the way God and Christ get worked into everything regardless of the subject. Being a stranger in your own family is a strange thing.

I agree with Nunbeliever that Godlessness isn't the last taboo in the US, I can say that religion is connected to virtually every other taboo we have especially with the amount of fundamentalism this country has. This country's decisions on so many levels seems ultimately connected to whether or not the bible approves of it, and it's killing it from the inside.

Mon, 06 Feb 2012 16:49:22 UTC | #915064

some asshole's Avatar Comment 13 by some asshole

...49 per cent [of idiot Americans] would refuse to back an atheist for president[.]

This sickens me. The vast majority of these idiots probably do not even realize what bigots they are.

I live in the Buy-bull Belt, and it does suck living here and being an atheist. So far, my push-back has involved getting the "A" tattoo, a matching bumper sticker on my car, and a "Science fish" emblem on there as well. The latter is a middle finger at the idiots who have bumper stickers that say things like "REAL MEN LOVE JESUS", but the other two are mostly for other atheists who recognize the "Out Campaign" symbol, to show them they're not alone. I have no idea if anyone has actually recognized either "A" symbol. I've considered getting an "A3IST" license plate, but I wouldn't be surprised if the DMV shot it down.

I think the Christi[ns]anity is slowly being watered down, as more sane people trickle into the Buy-bull Belt areas. Of course, initiatives like the ones being led by Dawkins and Faircloth are also of immense value.

People might not like the Buddhists and Mormons but at least they feel like they’re people who believe in [similar superstitious bullshit] and that confirms their beliefs. But somebody like an atheist, it just throws their beliefs into their face.

Except that pure Buddhism is essentially atheistic, this comment nails it.

Mon, 06 Feb 2012 16:50:16 UTC | #915066

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 14 by Premiseless

Comment 8 by Perfect Tommy :

A real priest, who is supposedly celibate, should be able to walk through an orgy of people having sex without even the hint of an erection. But, that is never the case. Why? Because they wouldn't be able to.

Belief about erections is the 21st century religion? Many men could easily do this (your wouldn't)! Heterosexuals to boot. This is synonymous with the theists arrogance against atheism.

If however one were to stop, midst such an orgy, and say something like," You are the most beautiful creature I have laid eyes upon, I would sincerely like to get to know you, would you care to come to dinner with me?" hardly anyone, in that context would consider it a sincere remark - due the entropy of suggestion being taken as the religion of society. It would berate the individual first for being there then for taking notice of another human in such a context. In this respect societies everywhere function very like theism. The vicars true motive is on noones agenda. Everyone elses agenda is seeking dominance!!!

People are crazed into:

"I spotted such a response to so and so therefore unseen erections are taking place." - belief in the unseen ascension.

This is ironic morality. Lots of brainless humans display this fundamental neanderthal intellect. When someone is not smart they are often seen as worthy of society hell treatment.

Take the following:

1)Ugly/impoverished man keeps admiring attractive woman therefore is branded perverted for what mainstream men would consider an essential feature of 'straight'. Erections must therefore be on his mind every minute of the day. Evil.

2)Woman sees attractive man paying her no attention therefore is insulted due her advances seeming to lack sexual reciprocity - branding him 'bent'. Erections ought, due my attractiveness, to be on his mind every minute of the day. Failure.

3)Up the emotive 1)&2) to group and community levels and this is how we get 'isms' in society.

The deceptive intellect also utilises such aberrations for power/popularity agendas. Witchunt type opportunities for leapfrogs into representing a tribe agenda. Elect me type head up 'my own arse is beautiful' sorts.

Obviously most of us aspire to function within the norms of what everyone describes as socially digestible, which is why, no matter how sincerely you are motivated internally, your impression to others is what will prevail. Religious consciousness in society is a power to individual ratio. Individuals ignore it at their peril - hence lots of sincere types don't get very far. Pandering to the mass consciousness beats sincere reason in communities where reason is restricted.

Mon, 06 Feb 2012 16:50:40 UTC | #915067

Universeman's Avatar Comment 15 by Universeman

Comment 10 by potteryshard An even bigger problem however, seems to be that atheism or free-thinkng is simply not seen as an alternate viewpoint...

The problem is that the existence of God is viewed by most people as a given, kind of like the theory of evolution is a given, oh wait...

Mon, 06 Feb 2012 16:53:15 UTC | #915068

strangebrew's Avatar Comment 16 by strangebrew

Comment 6 by rationalmind

I think the key to this is to carry on putting up the billboards and doing the busses. When people realise they are not alone they will come out of the closet.

And in that action we see the hatred and bigotry and crass criminal damage forays courtesy of the jeebus droolers, even attempts to blackmail bus companies that plague the campaign everywhere.

At a subconscious level the very real danger of the closet being deserted in favour of open and visible celebration of no belief in sky fairy is flaring their righteousness nostrils. This is a reverting to basics xian tactic 101.

Do not allow the 'enemy' to coalesce and find larger groups or even other like minded individuals..keep them isolated... keep them scared...keep them quite.

I think they really fear and are well aware that their ranks are riven with folks that just might desert en-masse if they felt safe and these adverts might trigger the defections..

They are so scared of the bus and billboard campaign they are almost gibbering with rage and impotence.

The fear that the trickle becomes a flood is palpable, they tear, deface and ruin the message as much as they can but they are losing the battle overall. They are very much on a defensive and damage control mission, but it seems that the long slow spiral down into the tar pit of novelty delusion has begun in earnest, they think they are gliding through some local secular inspired difficulties, they are in fact plummeting into the tar pit of oblivion, with no plan B their utter disorientation and lack of spatial awareness is typified by their criminal desperation in the first place.

Methinks Atheism is doing something so right and effective...it reveals the ignorant childish bias of a slice of the population...and it gives some folks great hope for the future.

I think that is as good as it gets for the moment...cos moderate folks are paying some attention to the fall out. But the precedent has been set...maybe not to long in the future atheist advertisement will be as common and accepted as the lingerie adverts on the London underground were at one time. And for a while probably just as controversial.

But I fully expect the atheist attitude to prosper and one day such adverts will not be required at all....what a great day that will be?

Mon, 06 Feb 2012 17:44:32 UTC | #915076

ashwinnarayan's Avatar Comment 17 by ashwinnarayan

Hmmmm. I think I prefer the meme version of David Silverman

Mon, 06 Feb 2012 17:57:57 UTC | #915079

Jonathan Dore's Avatar Comment 18 by Jonathan Dore

Interesting to read the comments on the FT site. Even many who self-identify as atheists seem pretty upset about the article, though that may be due to offended national pride.

Mon, 06 Feb 2012 18:33:58 UTC | #915083

mlgatheist's Avatar Comment 19 by mlgatheist

Blockquote As a Pew Research Center report put it, when it comes to religiosity, “the US is closer to considerably less developed nations, such as India, Brazil and Lebanon than to other western nations.”

If the republicans keep doing what they are doing in the states that they control and if they can do it at the national level we will be a 3rd world country. They are corrupting science classes, where they can, with xtian mythology. They continually lower the standards in the schools. They are changing laws in states to make unions impossible, no collective bargaining. Without collective bargaining the companies have all the negoiating power and so less wages, less benefits. The republican want less regulations (safety & enviromental).

Mon, 06 Feb 2012 18:51:52 UTC | #915089

Greenforest's Avatar Comment 20 by Greenforest

A suggestion on composition for Baggini: Lead with the statistics to give a broad view, don't bury them half-way through the article. The article is a bit heavy on anecdotes in my opinion. Otherwise, a good article.

Mon, 06 Feb 2012 19:07:57 UTC | #915093

raindrops's Avatar Comment 21 by raindrops

Moderator, It absolutely IS a political issue, because it is in the interest of certain kinds of politicians to have a religious constituency, as it is much easier for them to predict how to win votes. Also, people who do not like to pay taxes seek to align themselves with powerful, non-tax paying social structures: religious groups. Sean Faircloth talks about this in his analysis of Romney's religiosity. Thirty, Forty years ago, one didn't have to identify oneself as an atheist in the US... it wasn't an issue of identity!, and that is how it is different from the Gay rights movement. And Sam Harris is right about not needing to define the struggle in terms of identity. Atheists then become another voting block to appease or ignore, when the issue is really how to vote with a clear rational mind, on issues that really matter, not the emotional social issues that reliably distract people, religious or not, every voting season.

Mon, 06 Feb 2012 19:20:59 UTC | #915103

Nunbeliever's Avatar Comment 22 by Nunbeliever

To Moderator:

PLEASE do not derail this thread onto left/right wing politics! It is about atheism, not how to run an economy.

Well, as stellier68 pointed out that is just not true. This is very much a political issue and I would dare to say very much about left/right wing politics, and I think it's important to point this out.

USA is of course not a homogenous Christian country. There are countless of denominations of different shapes and sizes. But the great majority of all Christians in USA are protestants and the far biggest group of protestants are evangelicals. About a quarter of the whole population according to one study from 2009 (link). Hence, from a purely theological perspective Christians in USA should very much resemble Christians in Northern Europe. But, they surely do not!

They base their religious beliefs on the same religious scriptures, but still they differ so vastly to the extent that one could easily mistake them for separate religions all together. And why is that? Well, of course because the culture is so very different. It's actually quite understandable. In order for new nations to survive they have to unite the people under one banner. Most of the old European countries have a long history and ancient mythological roots that bind them together. This was no easy task for the founding fathers. USA is a very big and heterogenous country. Basically they only had two things in common. The fact that most of them had left Europe (often due to religious and political persecution) and were Christians. This is probably one of the big reasons the government was declared secular.

Atheist often like to point out that many of the founding fathers were non-belivers or deists. That of course contributed to how the constitution was formed. But, frankly that was also the only way to unite such a heterogenous group of people... of whom many had been persecuted by the governments in their former countries that did not tolerate religious dissidents.

But, most Americans were devout believers. In many ways much more so than people in Europe. So here we have Christians of a large number of different denomination sharing one fate. It's not very surprising that this new idea of USA as the new holy land became very popular. The constitution became almost like a new religious document that I'm sure many Christians considered divine and probably inspired by god himself. Hence, when you talk about Christianity in USA you can't separate it from nationalism and patriotism. They are deeply intertwined and dependant on each other.

I think that's why atheists are so despised in USA. They are not only seen as ungodly. They are seen as a direct threat against the very soul and soil of their nation. How can an atheist possibly be a good citizen of USA when Christianity is the very heart and soul of USA. This also explains why Christians in America are so egocentrical. When they evangelize they don't spread Christianity in the sense that perhaps most Christians from Europe do. They promote the American way of life. Because to them the American way of life. The love of the American soil is Christianity. You can't separate the American culture and politics from Christianity when you talk about USA no more than you can separate nationalism from the culture or politics. I think this is what many here don't seem to get. Christians in America don't regard atheists just as non-believers. They are a threat to the American way of life. A threat to their beloved nation. Their holy land.

So what about the issue of left/rightwing politics. Well, I think it has a lot to do with the cold war. Socialism and communism were considered the big threats to USA for half a century. I think this legacy is still very much alive in the minds of most Americans. A half century of fierce propaganda is not all that easy to revise. Hence, liberalism is still seen as a threat to USA. And as such also something unchristian and unpatriotic. Hence liberals can't possibly be true Christians. They have to be atheists or in some other ways deranged individuals. Common quotes like "green on the outside, but red on the inside" demonstrates this perfectly well. Hence, the idea of USA as a capitalistic society became a vital part of the national identity and also a vital part of people's religious identity. Of course USA is not for te moment being a free market in any way. But, the delusion lives on. The market is never to be blamed for the financial situation. It can't be. Because capitalism is what makes USA so great. And as such it also becomes a vital part of people's religious beliefs. As said before you can't separate these from each other. And if the market can't be blamed... then of course it has to be the government.

My point is that you can only understand Christianity in USA if you regard it as a inherent part of the cultural and political fabric of the American society. Many people make fun of the fact that many Americans are so individualistic, for the right to carry guns, warmongerers, etc... when it clearly has nothing to do with the teachings of Jesus in the NT. But, when you realize that Christianity in USA is to a great extent an extension of a national identity then it makes perfect sense.

Mon, 06 Feb 2012 19:38:33 UTC | #915109

Nunbeliever's Avatar Comment 23 by Nunbeliever

To raindrops:

It absolutely IS a political issue, because it is in the interest of certain kinds of politicians to have a religious constituency, as it is much easier for them to predict how to win votes.

I second that :)

Mon, 06 Feb 2012 19:45:12 UTC | #915111

potteryshard's Avatar Comment 24 by potteryshard

The problem is that the existence of God is viewed by most people as a given, kind of like the theory of evolution is a given, oh wait...

True, but not quite what I was attempting to say. In my experience, most of the religiously-afflicted equate atheism with having no opinion, not with having a negative opinion in regard to pious poppycock. Not only do they seem to feel that we have no opinion, but also that they are free to rush in and insert their ridiculous opinions in that seeming philosophical hole.

In truth, by being compelled to rebel against the complacent and conventional, free-thinkers almost invariably have more completely analyzed the situation. Nonetheless, the religious seem to persist in thinking that we just haven't gotten the 'word'.

Mon, 06 Feb 2012 20:37:59 UTC | #915128

Sean_W's Avatar Comment 25 by Sean_W

A family that won't associate with you because you're an atheist may be a bridge worth burning. -easy right?

Mon, 06 Feb 2012 21:27:41 UTC | #915145

Tony d's Avatar Comment 26 by Tony d

I wonder if the brain dead happy clappy Stepford wife type Christians of modern day America are like that because the puritans who got on the Mayflower were such extreme fun hating arseholes to begin with. A sort of Christian Taliban who far from wanting to escape religious persecution actually wanted to lead it. Could it be that starting from that lot, you end up with the grinning idiot type Christians of today?

Mon, 06 Feb 2012 21:33:52 UTC | #915146

GPWC's Avatar Comment 27 by GPWC

Comment 24 by potteryshard :

True, but not quite what I was attempting to say. In my experience, most of the religiously-afflicted equate atheism with having no opinion, not with having a negative opinion in regard to pious poppycock. Not only do they seem to feel that we have no opinion, but also that they are free to rush in and insert their ridiculous opinions in that seeming philosophical hole.

I think you are making a good point here, potteryshard, but it probably only accounts for the fewish 'religiously-affected' who have actually thought about it at all! The rest are just following orders.

But maybe it sheds some light on the reason why atheists are described as outspoken or aggressive etc. For an atheist to actually have an opinion comes as a shock and an unwelcome surprise to the religoons. From there, their indignation turns to anger.

I'm at a bit of a loss to see how atheists can make their point and not be considerd 'extreme' or 'provacative'. Consider a sports club dinner (in Europe, say) where most of the guests are atheists. But the chairman is not and (s)he starts the meal off by saying grace. All the atheists are expected to put up and shut up and if anyone dared to stop the proceedings and walk out, they - not the one saying grace - would be held to be in the wrong. Until we manage to turn this sort of thing on its head, we will always be the ones 'causing trouble'.

Mon, 06 Feb 2012 23:11:08 UTC | #915171

Ted Foureagles's Avatar Comment 28 by Ted Foureagles

First a little background. Some of my family came to North America from Scotland in the 1740s, and others were the Cherokee & Creek natives on the land for a few thousand years before. After the 1838 Trail of Tears, those who remained did so by dint of passing for white -- the whiter the better. Many of them were Ku Klux Klan members by default, just as many in Saddam's Iraq were de-facto Bath party members.

My parents left North Carolina when I was a few days old because they'd had a cross burned on their lawn by the KKK, who pretty much ran everything around there from mayorship to school principal to minister to sheriff. The dual but inseperable dictates were that they stop granting business credit to black folk and also join the church. We settled way up in the Colorado High Country where, even if you met someone it wouldn't occur to them to question your beliefs.

I recently moved back to Carolina and find it little changed, at least in the rural places. Back home in Colorado there are loud, obvious contingents of ultra-conservative Christianity down in the Front Range cities, but no one really pays attention to them except for pundits from elsewhere. Up in the hills religion is a personal thing entirely irrelavent to the public (such as it is) sphere. But down here in Southern Appalachia, religion, specifically Conservative Christianity, is the background, suffusing everything. The overt KKK has mostly faded politically except in a few isolated places like Mt. Gilead or Faith, NC, and Southern Baptism has more or less taken its place.

You can openly be an atheist here now without risk of burning crosses, at least if you choose your community well. But to do so means a certain, perhaps critical loss of community effectiveness and social legitimacy. I've brought up the subject of atheism with a few of my Carolina neighbors, all very good people, and every single one linked it to devil worship. Such is the state of social reason in the US Southeast in 2012.

}}}}

Mon, 06 Feb 2012 23:41:00 UTC | #915176

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 29 by Premiseless

Comment 28 by Ted Foureagles : }}}}

Thank you for that post - it was much appreciated!

Tue, 07 Feb 2012 00:16:01 UTC | #915186

potteryshard's Avatar Comment 30 by potteryshard

All the atheists are expected to put up and shut up and if anyone dared to stop the proceedings and walk out, they - not the one saying grace - would be held to be in the wrong

Accidently drop your wineglass on the floor?

Tue, 07 Feb 2012 00:31:27 UTC | #915190