Sometimes you see a story about America and you realize how ignorant some Americans are. The “story of an atheist who was harassed in the military”:http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/04/26/atheist.soldier.ap/index.html is one of those stories:
bq. Known as “the atheist guy,” Hall has been called immoral, a devil worshipper and — just as severe to some soldiers — gay, none of which, he says, is true. Hall even drove fellow soldiers to church in Iraq and paused while they prayed before meals.
Note that the author couldn’t just write that he’s not immoral, a devil-worshipper or gay, they had to qualify it with a “he says” because even the author of the story about prejudice isn’t quite sure if it’s possible for an atheist to be moral, straight and not believe in the devil.
It reminds me of my high school life in Virginia where other kids were shocked, shocked!, to find out I was an atheist. Most equated atheism to satanism and some were brave, or maybe stupid, enough to ask if I held “rituals” or believed that sacrificing animals or humans was okay. If I could keep from rolling my eyes, it was fun to answer “it depends on the person” and just stare at them. Ahh, high school, those were the days. There was even one football player, who was a big guy and much bigger than me, who I had been somewhat friends with, never talked to me after he found out I was an atheist and he admitted that he avoided me in the halls out of _fear_. Fear! Granted, that’s redneck-ville Virginia, but I bet most Americans have similar feelings today. According to Gallup polls, “that’s true”:http://atheism.about.com/od/atheistbigotryprejudice/a/AtheistSurveys.htm:
bq. 52% [of Americans] have a mostly unfavorable or worse attitude [towards atheists]
It turns out that atheists are the most hated minority in America. In fact, I’m more discriminated against than Scientologists! Oh well, at least I’m in good company. Here’s a list of famous atheists:
Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, Aldous Huxley, Andrew Carnegie, Ernest Hemingway, Arthur C. Clarke, Charles Darwin (duh!), Ayn Rand, Benjamin Franklin, Galileo, Leo Tolstoy, Kurt Vonnegut, John Lennon, Walt Disney, Frank Lloyd Wright, Alfred Hitchcock, George Orwell, Charles Schultz, Robert Heinlen, Mark Twain, Robert Frost, Susan B. Anthony, Vincent Van Gogh, Thomas Jefferson (woo hoo!), Thomas Edison, Thomas Paine, Ingmar Bergman, Sigmund Freud, Oscar Wilde, David Hume, Albert Camus, Brian Eno, Mike Mills, Michael Stipe, Robert Smith, Bob Odenkirk, Michael Lewis, Ian McKellen, Douglas Coupland, Warren Buffett, Douglas Adams, Howard Stern, Robin Quivers, Michael Crichton, Woody Allen, Linus Torvalds, Sarah Vowell, Noam Chomsky, John Malkovich, Frank Zappa, Salman Rushdie, Berkeley Breathed (former Vashon-Islander!), Ricky Gervais, Lance Armstrong, Isaac Asimov, Chumbawamba, Marlon Brando, Richard Branson, Isaac Brock and Peter Buck (that makes 75% of R.E.M.!) and, of course, Richard Dawkins.
The list goes “on and on and on”:http://www.celebatheists.com/?title=Main_Page…