Results of a 2006 study done by the University of Minnesota….
From a telephone sampling of more than 2,000 households, university researchers found that Americans rate atheists below Muslims, recent immigrants, gays and lesbians and other minority groups in “sharing their vision of American society.” Atheists are also the minority group most Americans are least willing to allow their children to marry.
From a Pew Policy Poll released yesterday….
While 35 percent of respondents said they would be less likely to support a presidential candidate who had an extramarital affair, 53 percent of Americans indicated that not believing in God — the trait viewed most negatively of the 16 tested — would make them unsupportive of a candidate.
I’ve written about this type of thing before, so if atheism, or atheists, upset you…just because of the atheism part….best to stop reading now.
While I’m not shocked at the above findings….I used to hold atheists in contempt myself….I do find the results curious. For Americans, a person like me is held in more contempt than even Muslims….which I find kind of….well…nuts…..because Muslims believe in Allah, the same Abrahamic-faith deity that Jews and Christians believe in. I guess it doesn’t have to make any sense.
What I see in these two polling studies is……fear. Americans, still by a wide margin, are afraid of fellow citizens who do not believe god exists. Don’t marry one, don’t vote for one……too scary.
I understand that fear. I do.
However, let’s look at it from my point of view…..an atheist’s point of view. There is no observable, reviewable, empirical evidence that a deity exists. That is why belief in a deity requires faith. Faith, as Christians proudly explain from the biblical book of James….. “is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Even when I was a believer, those words, “evidence of things not seen”, seemed strange, contradictory. Belief, faith, itself…..to Christians…..is believing in god without ANY evidence of a god existing. Christian faith, if the Bible is to be taken at face value, is meant to be a blind faith. James was saying in essence: Christian faith is only genuine if there is no evidence, whatsoever, for believing.
So, why would parents find it desirous for their children to marry only those who believe in a god no one has ever seen or heard from? Seriously, if your daughter’s suitor believed in invisible people, invisible people or angels or gods who no one else could see……whom he prayed to and sang hymns to…..why would that be an attractive quality in a potential mate?
If your daughter’s suitor explained that he devoutly believed in the Flying Spaghetti Monster…..another invention of man, although cynical man I admit…..why wouldn’t that “belief” also endear the suitor to the believing parents. Has anyone ever seen or communicated with the Judeo-Christian-islamic god? Has anyone ever seen or communicated with the Flying Spaghetti Monster god? Wherein lies the distinction?
What I find even more astounding is the poll results placing atheists at the bottom of the list of candidates worth electing to secular government. Federal, state, and local government in the U.S. is prohibited from establishing religion through influence or lawmaking. Yet, a candidate who doesn’t believe in a deity, would not be supported by 53% of the U.S. population, and would be regarded as the least desirable candidate in any political race.
Think about that. Our secular nation’s electorate……PREFERS political officials who believe in “evidence” which can’t be “seen.”
Yes, the rage-against-atheists religious machine is losing it’s horsepower, so to speak. Education will eventually marginalize belief in god in America, as it has done in European countries already. That is why we hear so much negativity from believing conservatives concerning those “liberal-commie” college professors brainwashing our impressionable youth.
Ignorance and fear-of-the-other kept blacks in chains for a century and marginalized as sub-humans for another century. Ignorance and fear….and blind faith…..tried to prevent two people of a different race from marrying one another for over 200 years. Ignorance, religious faith and fear insist today that marriage equality is the work of also-invisible devils.
Some day….long after I’m gone…..the U.S. will finally grow out of it’s adolescent period. Eventually, atheists will not be regarded as evil, like they are today. American parents will be able to relax….U.S. voters will become less superstitious….and our ‘melting pot’ secular nation will make another stride towards the “all men are created equally” promise in the Founder’s Declaration.
But not yet.