If you are still riding the fence about whether non-believers are moral people, here’s a little tidbit from the Pew Research Center. White Evangelical Protestants agree at a startling 62% that torture can sometimes or often be justified. One out of five thinks we ought to use it often. Significantly less “unaffiliated” (psst… non-believers) agree — forty percent.
There is, of course, the question of chickens and eggs. Do torture supporters go to church, or do churchgoers support torture? Pew implies that it is something of a circular relationship: “[P]arty and ideology are much better predictors of views on torture than are religion and most other demographic factors… Of course, religion itself is known to be a strong factor shaping individuals’ partisanship and political ideology.”
In one very important sense, it’s not really that important what’s causing what. The fact is — THE FACT IS — that non-religious people are less in favor of torture than religious people. Once again, we are the most moral people when a single issue is quantified. It’s also worth noting that for Pew, “unaffiliated” includes atheists, agnostics, “spiritual but not religious,” and many other categories. I suspect that if we broke out “open atheists,” we would find an ever starker contrast.
On April 29, Gregory Paul and Phil Zuckerman published an article in the Washington Post calling attention to the tacit support for discrimination against atheists. “Rarely denounced by the mainstream, this stunning anti-atheist discrimination is egged on by Christian conservatives who stridently — and uncivilly — declare that the lack of godly faith is detrimental to society, rendering nonbelievers intrinsically suspect and second-class citizens.” The most disturbing aspect of this bigotry is that the mainstream doesn’t oppose it. The evidence is out there, and it’s clear:
- Death Penalty
- Hitting Children
- Anti-Human Rights
- Unsafe sex
- Jail Population
These are the special milieus of the religious. In each one of these categories of moral behavior and attitudes, non-believers demonstrate better morality than believers. And yet, the great un-committed middle — the nominal believers, the liberal denominations, the New Agers, the polite agnostics — allow and even condone open discrimination and silencing of atheists.
Once again, I must stress that it doesn’t really matter which is the chicken and which is the egg. It’s an important question that I’d like to see answered in my lifetime, but it’s not relevant to the question of continued discrimination against non-believers. Regardless of the cause, we are more moral than believers.
Anything less than public denunciation of discrimination is equivalent to condoning it. Time and again, the Far Right Theocrats prove to be the least moral people in America, and yet atheists are singled out for censure. We are the ones receiving hate mail for our billboards — despite the fact that church billboards outnumber ours at least a thousand to one.
You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice — RUSH
We open atheists would like to see agnostics and nominal believers — those for whom religious dogma does not inform day-to-day life, but who acknowledge belief in a higher power — put an end to this. We don’t ask that you give up your belief in god, or your suspicion that there might be purpose to it all. We simply ask that you acknowledge and act upon the facts: Non-believers are not immoral people. We are in fact more moral than those who condemn us.
This is no longer a matter of personal opinion. Those who hold the belief that atheists are immoral are wrong. We do not lead society into anarchy. We don’t lead children into early sex, pregnancy, and disease. We aren’t communists. We don’t have a “homosexual agenda” and we aren’t bent on turning your child into a fagalicious queen. (But we’ll accept him and love him if he does turn out to be gay. Will our accusers do the same?)
The blatant discrimination against atheists is based on a lie. A gigantic lie. An unconscionable lie. A lie that is disturbingly similar to the one that led millions to gas chambers the last time a Christian managed to foment the collective bigotry of a nation in economic distress.
The fact is, we atheists are everywhere. We’re your neighbors, your employees, your friends, your babysitters. We have been living next to you for your whole life, and we’ve never done anything to you. Even so, there is a loud and angry voice from the far right — the far right trying to sell you a discriminatory Constitutional amendment, the end of women’s rights, union busting, and the collapse of medicare — insisting that we are the enemy.
WAKE UP! It’s not us. If you truly believe in the Bible, I suggest you heed its advice: Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Look at what we’re doing, and what they’re doing. Decide for yourself. Please stop maintaining polite silence while twenty percent of us are being labeled as angry, immoral, and anti-American by those who are brazenly flaunting their own anger and immorality, and openly legislating the end of “liberty for all.”