November 18, 2012

Lots of misconceptions about atheism

On Election Day, Americans re-elected a black man as their president, an act that not long ago would have been unthinkable.

We elected our first openly gay senator. We elected our first Hindu and Buddhist members of the House of Representatives, where Muslim members were re-elected.

Oh, and in California, the one atheist among the 535 members of Congress lost in his bid for re-election.

As a nation, we have shown that we’ll vote for anybody. We’ve elected dead men. Professional wrestlers, action-movie stars, Davy Crockett.

Politicians have lied, embezzled and cheated on their wives, and still gotten elected. Being arrested for using crack, selling crack and making crack in the basement isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker for us. Hmmm. What’s his tax policy like?

It’s uplifting to know that I live in a country that will vote for people no matter their race, gender, sexual orientation, competency or moral compass. As long as they have a religion, any religion.

Why is it that my people terrify you so?

For years, I’ve been living quietly under the don’t ask, don’t tell policy, but yes, I will publicly admit it: I am an atheist. There goes my once promising chance to be president.

Repeated Gallup polls have affirmed that atheists are the minority group Americans would be least likely to vote for. A University of Minnesota study showed that atheists are also the group that parents would least want their children to marry into.

A recent study in a psychology journal found that just 33 percent of respondents would hire atheists as day-care workers, though 65 percent would hire an atheist as a waitress — presumably at a restaurant without a children’s menu.

In the most disturbing study, it was revealed that the two groups that Americans trusted least were atheists and rapists. It was a tie. I did not make that up.

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