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← Atheism in America

Ted Foureagles's Avatar Jump to 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.

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