Shocker: atheists are despised!
Austin Cline over at About.com put together this comprehensive list of surveys showing just how despised atheists are as a minority. When Americans were asked who they would vote for, the atheist candidate was always the most hated one. For people like you and me, this kind of attitude seems pretty puzzling. Sure, we can be a bunch of killjoys at parties, but statistically, we are less likely to commit violent or petty crimes. We’re a pretty moral bunch, all things being equal. So why are we so despised?
Finally, other studies and surveys indicate that prejudice against atheists is going back up. A March, 2007 survey done by Newsweek shows that 62% of people would refuse to vote for any candidate admitting to being an atheist. Republicans were, predictably, the most bigoted at 78%, followed by Democrats at 60% and independents at 45%. Among those surveyed, 47% claimed that America is more accepting of atheists than in the past. I wonder where they got that idea? The only positive results from this survey were that 68% of the people felt that atheists could be moral — but this begs the question of why people won’t vote for atheists.
Believing in God is like being part of a club; although there might be a large variety of them, the fact there are so many others who believe in a relatively similar intangible being is comforting; it reinforces their belief that he does, in fact, exist. Atheists completely reject this notion, and their adamant objections and arguments break up their comforting world view.
The idea that anyone can live peaceful and fulfilled lives without God is a huge threat to their belief system. After all, religions use human ignorance and fear as recruitment tools. Worried about whether or not you’re living morally? Worried about what will happen to you when you die? Try religion! Of course, the fact an ever increasing proportion of the population reject the facile answers of theocracy threatens their monopoly over our culture. It’s no surprise, then, that pastors in church teach their parishioners to despise and distrust atheists.
Is it possible to change this prejudice attitude towards us? It’s doubtful it’s going to change anytime soon. Despite the rhetoric that Christianity is somehow a peaceful and tolerant religion, the simple truth is ‘good’ Christians were the ones pushing for segregation as much as they were fighting for civil rights. Today, a great number of them fight both for and against gay marriage. The only way to predict the behavior of Christians is to examine their degree of religiosity. The more they believe, the more they hate others who don’t mimic their beliefs.
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