Press-Republican

November 18, 2012

Lots of misconceptions about atheism

By STEVE OUELLETTE, You Had To Ask
Press-Republican

---- — 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.

If President Obama’s foes had spread the rumor that he was an atheist, not a Muslim, Ann Romney would be picking out drapes for the White House living room right now.

It’s hard to say exactly how many atheists there are in the United States, but a good estimate is about 15 million people. A significant percentage of whom are not ax murderers, dognappers, tax cheats, prostitutes, computer hackers, drug addicts and/or lawyers.

In an effort to bring everyone together and clear the air, I thought I would address some questions and common misconceptions about atheists.

No, I am not, nor have I ever been, a communist. I do like the color red.

Yes, I still celebrate Christmas. Presents and warm family moments are cool.

No, we do not have meetings. At least none that I’ve been invited to. I really wish we could get a clubhouse of some sort, with a big-screen TV and an air hockey table — which could double as an altar on which we sacrifice innocent victims. If we ever did that sort of thing, which we definitely don’t.

Yes, technically, it’s legal for atheists to marry, not just to each other, but also to Christians.

It is, however, difficult to get competent clergyman to perform the ceremonies. Trust me on that account. In pre-marriage counseling, the minister who was to perform my wedding actually consigned me to hell. And we still hired him.

No, we do not have a supreme leader. There is some fear that if we had an election, not even fellow atheists would vote for an atheist, and that would be embarrassing.

Yes, I do have a moral code. I try to tell the truth, protect my children, follow the law, help those in need whenever I can. I follow almost all of the 10 Commandments, except for the one about the Sabbath, and the one about using the Lord’s name in vain (which is broken every time I watch football on the Sabbath).

No, I am not a drug user. I also don’t smoke or drink; it’s not one of our rules, just personal choice.

Yes, actually I do look like an atheist. This is the template. Now you’ll know how to spot one.

No, I was not brainwashed due to bad parenting. My parents took me to church every Sunday and still attend themselves every week. No, they wouldn’t vote for me either.

Yes, if I was ever called into court as a witness I would tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, even if the swearing on the Bible doesn’t move me.

No, I do not want to poison the minds of your children. I don’t even like being near your children. They carry germs, their table manners are terrible, and their music hurts my brain. Mostly I just want your children to leave me alone.

No, we do not have an army of godless minions who will attack in 2014 and seize control of the government. Especially not on June 27. Nope.

I hope this helps. Atheism has become the homosexuality of the 21st century, and it’s just not right. Maybe I’ll live to see an atheist president … or at least an atheist pride parade! A parade would be awesome.

Email Steve Ouellette: ouellette1918@gmail.com