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Washington Syndrome: Gaining Acceptance for Atheism

Andrew Sullivan has had some interesting discussion recently of the rampant anti-atheist sentiment in America. Here he notes Eugene Volokh's new article discussing the continuing open discrimination in child custody proceedings against atheist fathers. Sullivan:

Of course, this is an outrageous attack on religious liberty. Imagine if Christian parents were denied custody because of their faith. O'Reilly would have weeks of programming. But atheists? Naah. When Christianists declare that they are fighting for religious freedom, bring this issue up. It will determine whether they are in good faith, so to speak, or not. . .

Personally, I have a great deal of hope that this is going to start to change in the near future. Indeed, this is one area where the blogosphere could actually prove quite powerful. Ten years ago, I'm not sure there was anywhere that your average Christian American was exposed to openly atheistic viewpoints. These days, I'm constantly amazed how many prominent bloggers profess their atheism on a daily basis. On the list, with the help of The Raving Atheist: Daily Kos, Washington Monthly, The Volokh Conspiracy (Jim Lindgren), Pharyngula, Daily Pundit, onegoodmove, Matthew Yglesias, Vodkapundit, and of course many others, including me.

Of course, the average American still may not tune in to these atheist blogs, but a lot of people do. A lot more than used to face proud, open, secularism a few years ago. And since most of the hostility toward atheists, in my view, is based in the fact that so few people feel they know any, this could well start to have a dramatic effect. The informal nature of blogs, revealing much of a blogger's character and personality, has the potential to be quite powerful in this regard.

(Via Pharnyngula.)




I agree that religious freedom means everyone--if it's not okay to discriminate against a Christian in child custody proceedings then it's not okay to discriminate against an atheist.

I would also like to note that one of Sullivan's most annoyingly juvenile rhetorical games is to say: "We'll see if so and so will do X (e.g. "if Daily Kos will denounce this immediately, or else he is a shameless hypocrite"). If they don't, we will know that they are Y." That way he's resolved the discussion before it happens.

Gee thanks for not including me on the atheist blogroll.

Is it because I never get death threats?


Did you see the article that shows that atheists and agnostics have much higher morality (particularly as it pertains to acceptance of torture) than Christians or the general public?

Norm, personally I'm not sure covering religion on blogs is really worth it. While personally I am an atheist/agnostic whatever, I don't think criticizing religion in general is time well spent. Criticize the excesses by all means, but I don't think that religion itself is bad. It may lead to strife in many situations when it is abused, as it is all too frequently, yet on the whole it should be viewed neutrally. Most religion teaches goodwill towards mankind and such, and the bad things that come out of it come from bad people. Maybe mass delusion, but mass delusion that is beneficial to many individuals. Look to both sides. I've said my piece and I'm sure you'll disagree somewhat. This may not be quite the correct thread for this post, but I felt like saying it sometime.

There are so many places where religous propagators have not only free reign but control of the agenda, out side of the church, it seems only right that there should be some place in the country where religion is not sacred. Where the cow shall be soundly kicked, as it were.

Amen Thomas. I agree. We are the minority. Where else can we go? And then to even take this away from us? Are we never allowed to speak our minds about how we really feel about things. Christians and believers are revered for the most part. If you want to see believers being revered or ignored, this is not the place to be. There are plenty of other places to go though... plenty.. practically every other blog on the blogosphere.

I agree Jo Ann. Internet Blogs like these finally make way to demonstrate a few of the dangers of belief. But we nonbelievers can't come even remotely close to equaling the centuries of religious propaganda. A focus on the flaws for any system (be it political, scientific, religious, etc.) allow for honest investigation.


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