January 18, 2010

Remember Atheist Civil Rights

mlk2.jpgOn the day which most of the U.S. remembers Martin Luther King, Jr., it seems appropriate to think of civil rights. I cannot help thinking that King would have been disappointed to see some in the African American community making a little bit of progress only to turn around and embrace anti-gay bigotry. I have no idea what King would have had to say on the subject of the anti-atheist bigotry or what he would think about the discrimination we continue to face. What I do know is that this day should be an occasion for reflecting on bigotry in all its forms.

Survey after survey has revealed widespread hatred of atheists in the U.S. Some prominent Christians have denied our very humanity, and I suspect that countless others would agree. We have seen recent data indicating that our neighbors would be least likely to support an interfaith marriage where one partner was an atheist. Even the simple act of erecting a sign saying that one can be "good without god" is treated as a serious affront by many Christians.

On the day we remember Dr. King, we would do well to remember that atheism is very much a civil rights issue in the U.S. Like the African American community, we have made some progress but have a vast distance yet to travel toward equality.

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