|Touro Synagogue, built in 1759 in Newport, Rhode Island, is America's oldest surviving synagogue (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Instead of writing some diatribe about how those of you who have the day off should be thanking liberals and labor unions, I thought I'd touch on something only peripherally related to Labor Day but sadly relevant to most working atheists: bigotry in the workplace.
Imagine a conversation occurring in one's place of employment in which one party identifies himself or herself as Jewish and the other party, an evangelical Christian, responds with something like the following:
Oh, I didn't know you were Jewish. You always seemed like such a nice person!I may be wrong about this, but I suspect that most employed adults in the U.S. today would recognize the bigotry reflected in this response and would not expect to hear it in their workplace. They would perceive the statement as inappropriate. I realize that there will be exceptions to this, particularly in regions dominated by evangelical fundamentalist Christianity like the South. This is important to acknowledge because I have actually heard this statement from Christians on multiple occasions here in Mississippi. So no, not everyone is going to recognize it as inappropriate. But on balance, I have to imagine that most people outside such regions would experience the sort of involuntary cringe we tend to have when someone says something offensive after hearing this statement.
And yet, if we replace "Jewish" with "atheist," something striking happens. The statement is no longer widely recognized as inappropriate. Many people can now hear it without the cringe reaction. They might not agree with the sentiment being expressed, but they are much less shocked to hear it. Many do not even perceive it as bigoted.