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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just found out about this today.


This site, the Rational Response Squad (many of whose tactics I don't fully support) has a cool idea. They are telling people to upload testimonials from people that they don't believe. I think this will help people who are doubt their religion not feel so guilty about it, people who are atheists be more open about it, and for believers who think that they don't know any atheists or that atheists are some rare, evil type person, that we are all over the place and ordinary people. A lot of what I would call "atheists" identify as agnostic or nonreligious either purposely or mistakenly because of all the negative connotations and misunderstandings of the word. I feel atheists would benefit much like gays and lesbians have by being more open about the fact that yes, they exist, are everywhere, and are normal, decent human beings.

Nevertheless, like many gays or lesbians, I am careful about when or to whom I reveal this information about myself because I know that there are a lot of people who would deny me a job or give me a hard time about it. So I like the idea of being "out", but I am still unsure of how "out" I want to be myself.

Of course many religious people who know about this are posting their own responses as well. I think it's a good thing when everybody starts communicating their ideas openly. So believers- you can post your videos, too!
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thalia View Post

I think it's a good thing when everybody starts communicating their ideas openly.
I agree. Won't it be nice when/if we can get to a point where we can all disagree, believe or not believe in different things and still have genuine respect and caring for one another!
 

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I'm very spiritual/religious and I believe in God but I don't have a problem with atheists at all. It's too bad that atheists are getting a hard time from religious/spiritual people. To me, in my faith perspective, it would be anti-religious/spiritual to give an atheist a hard time and I really can't imagine any of my spiritual/religious friends giving an atheist a hard time. If someone doesn't believe in God I don't think it's my job to convince that person that God exists. I've got no proof, lol. I will enter into respectful discussions but if someone does not believe Jesus even instructed his followers to simply "shake the dust from your feet" which basically means "leave them alone". Too many Christians skip that passage I think. But like I say, I can't imagine any of my spiritual/religious friends trying to convince an athiest.

Perhaps it's a regional problem. Do you live in the US, Thalia? I think in Canada we are more laid back although I'm sure you'd find zealots here and there in Canada as well.
 

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It could just be because of my insular West Coast environment, but I don't think atheists are firmly stigmatized at all...the comparison with alternative sexual orientations seems to be hyperbole. Then again, the situation could be VERY different in the middle of the US.

ebola
 

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I hang out with a bunch of atheists and I've never seen them be stigmatized in public. I think once someone came up and witnessed to them a little, and handed out Bibles, but I wasn't with them that day. I think atheists and people with alternative spirituality/religion are sometimes possibly a little too sensitive to perceived bigotry. I live in a very conservative part of the country, I'm not straight (though I live in a straight relationship), and I have an alternative religion, and my politics are very non-conservative. But I have never felt any prejudice from my neighbors.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ludi View Post

I hang out with a bunch of atheists and I've never seen them be stigmatized in public.
Glad to hear this from a Texan! In reference to this and GC's comment, I'm a west-coaster now, but I lived my first 30 years in the US southeast. I can't say that atheists were stigmatized there either. Sure, some religious individuals would show contempt for atheism, but really nothing exceeding the attitude that I have seen many atheists put toward people of religious faith.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ludi View Post

I hang out with a bunch of atheists and I've never seen them be stigmatized in public.
How would anyone know they were atheists? I am not thinking of things like name calling or finger pointing, but more subtle things like being sent godspam by family or work, people thinking you are a communist or suddenly not trusting you as much as they once did.

As a child I spoke openly about my lack of beliefs if the subject of God came up and it made some parents uncomfortable having their kids around me. My mom shouldn't have had to tell me to be careful about letting people know I don't believe in a god, just like a Muslim parent shouldn't have to tell her kids to not let people know she's Muslim. I was innocent and naive and didn't know it would upset people.

Some of it is unintentional. For example, phrases such as "there are no atheists in foxholes" is used regularly but no one would say, "in times of crisis, even Jews will turn to Jesus." It's insulting.

I received a mass email at work from a good person and friend. She didn't realize her mistake in passing this on:

Quote:
It is said that 86% of Americans believe in God. Therefore I have a very

hard time understanding why there is such a mess about having "In God We

Trust" on our money and having God in the Pledge of Allegiance. Why don't we

just tell the 14% to shut up and sit down????

If you agree, pass this on, if not delete...
I had to explain to her how this made me feel. I doubt she would have sent something like that about Jews or Muslims. She is a very respectful and kind woman.

From a transcript of On the Media:

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BROOKE GLADSTONE: Penny Edgell is an associate professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota. In 2003, she and her colleagues, Doug Hartmann and Joe Gerteis, conducted a national poll to determine which of 10 ethnic and religious groups the average American would least like their children to marry.

PENNY EDGELL: We had included atheists on the list as a group that we expected would have low levels of disapproval, and therefore we thought, well, that will be a good yardstick against which to measure other kinds of attitudes. We were really very surprised.

BROOKE GLADSTONE: Atheists were deemed the least desirable. Muslims did better in 2003, and gays and lesbians, maybe because most respondents had at least seen one or two. But research suggests avowed atheists are few and far between.
Quote:
BROOKE GLADSTONE: ...Mostly, TV atheists are lost souls, like Jen in the teenage drama Dawson's Creek that ran from 1998 to 2003. Here was Jen in the series premiere.

JEN: And I, I don't do real well with church and the Bible and this prayer stuff.

WOMAN: I beg your pardon?

JEN: I don't covet a religious God. Grams, I'm an atheist.

BROOKE GLADSTONE: And here she is in the series finale, terminally ill, taping a farewell message to her baby daughter.

JEN: I've never really believed in God. But I hope that you are able to believe in God, because the thing that I've come to realize, Sweetheart, that it just doesn't matter if God exists or not. The important thing is for you to believe in something.

DAVID SHORE: There's very few atheistic people on television, and I find that a little surprising.

BROOKE GLADSTONE: House creator and writer, David Shore.

DAVID SHORE: Atheists, to me, fall in the same category, to some extent, as lawyers, in the sense that people hate them, in general but like their own. They know House. They like House. They don't care he's an atheist - I don't think.
Anytime issues involving atheism come up on news sites where people can leave comments, there are inevitably hateful comments towards atheists.

Here is an article about people who have written about atheism and how they got such horrible vile feedback.

After Reggie Finley, infidel guy went on wife swap as an atheist family, he got all kinds of nasty and threatening phone calls.

I also wonder what would happen if non-believers openly wore symbols of their non beliefs like believers do of theirs like cross jewelry, stars of david and the like. Would we be thought of as trying to push or beliefs, being anti-religion, rocking the boat, or drawing attention to ourselves? Would people feel threatened?

ETA- this is not to mention the millions who hide their lack of belief from their families or if they reveal it are disowned or kicked out of the house. I read about it all the time on my one forum. People discuss strategies to "come out" all the time. http://www.iidb.org/vbb/forumdisplay.php?f=63
 

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Thalia - I've had to deal with similar things, especially as an agnostic child. But can't you see that maybe you're using anecdotes to make a general statement?

I've seen plenty of situations where atheists have accused "Christians" as being the cause of wars, without paying regard to the Christians in their community who do a great deal of good. The other day, an atheist colleague of mine explained away the driving habits of someone, who cut us off on the highway, after noticing a fish sticker on the back of his car. Examples like this are countless, but that doesn't reduce all of atheism to the likes of Pol Pot.

FWIW, regarding your comparison to Judaism and Islam, I see the exact opposite. In my experience I've observed far more contempt for Jews and Muslims than atheists.
 

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I'm an atheist and in a lesbian relationship and people are more horrified to find out I'm an atheist for sure, usually. Not my family or friends- we are all pretty much atheist or at least non Christian, and my few Christian friends have NO problem with my lack of belief in a god or my sexuality.

However, people at college, etc, do not have any problem with my being gay (I am very open about it, and my girlfriend has even come to classes with me) but when I say I am an atheist, they are shocked. "But you're so nice!" or "No!! How??" and I always resist saying "Because I am intelligent?"
(note the sarcasm, I don't think all religious people are stupid by any means, but I DO believe in science!)
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Quote:
Originally Posted by nigel View Post

Thalia - I've had to deal with similar things, especially as an agnostic child. But can't you see that maybe you're using anecdotes to make a general statement?

I've seen plenty of situations where atheists have accused "Christians" as being the cause of wars, without paying regard to the Christians in their community who do a great deal of good. The other day, an atheist colleague of mine explained away the driving habits of someone, who cut us off on the highway, after noticing a fish sticker on the back of his car. Examples like this are countless, but that doesn't reduce all of atheism to the likes of Pol Pot.

FWIW, regarding your comparison to Judaism and Islam, I see the exact opposite. In my experience I've observed far more contempt for Jews and Muslims than atheists.
I'm not sure I understand what general statement you think I'm making.

Certainly not that Christians are the cause of all wars or that fish sticker=bad driver! In fact I stated the opposite, that it would be nice if we could all feel safe to openly communicate our ideas with each other.

I think many atheists either have experienced or have knowledge of the existence of negative attitudes towards atheists (in addition to two legitimate polls discussed in this thread showing general negative attitudes towards atheists becoming president or marrying one's child) I listed examples to just to show these attitudes exist, not to prove that all or most Christians like crap.

I am friends with all kinds of religious folk who know my beliefs. But because I know a fair number of people have misconceptions about us, I am careful of whom I tell, or at least wait until I know they know I'm a good person first. I have a feeling if I listed "President of Atheist Alliance" on my job resume it might raise eyebrows, whereas many people who've applied for jobs at my work have listed Baptist Fellowship Group Leader, etc.

As for Muslims and Jews, I don't want to say who's worse off. I heard a horrible story about a little girl who was harassed out of a public school after 911. It's sick. But I think at least you hear stories on TV and radio about discrimination against these group with the assumption it's wrong. You don't hear discrimination against atheists discussed publically much. Mulisms and Jews probably do get it worse, and a lot of it is they don't hide or apologize for their beliefs around Christians as much as atheists do.
 

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No - I wasn't suggesting that you were condemning Christians. It seemed that you felt you're a victim of some collective agenda from which you have to hide your own beliefs. My only point was that you're not the only victim in this dynamic. People from all positions suffer the same scrutiny.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thalia View Post

How would anyone know they were atheists? I am not thinking of things like name calling or finger pointing, but more subtle things like being sent godspam by family or work, people thinking you are a communist or suddenly not trusting you as much as they once did.
People know they're atheists because they are part of an atheist club so the restaurant staff where we meet know who they/we are, also they are old and deaf and speak very loudly about their liberal politics and atheist views.

I'm not sure how being sent godspam is being stagmatized, personally....

I'm not saying prejudice against atheists doesn't exist, mind you, just that most of my social time is spent with atheists and I've never seen any open, public prejudice against them.
 
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