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Post column addresses anti-atheist bigotry

May 4, 2011

I’ve frequently addressed the problem of anti-atheist bigotry and the lack of media attention to it. I’ve talked about it to religious and secular groups and to my  Journalism & Religion students over the years. So this piece in the Washington Post is very encouraging. Yes, it is an opinion piece as opposed to a news story, but I still think it’s important that the WaPo published it and that it is being circulated on Facebook, which is where I heard about it (thank you to my former student Michael Gould). The authors are  Gregory Paul,  listed as “an independent researcher in sociology and evolution” and Phil Zuckerman, a professor of sociology at Pitzer College and the author of “Society Without God.” They write:

 Rarely denounced by the mainstream, this stunning anti-atheist discrimination is egged on by Christian conservatives who stridently — and uncivilly — declare that the lack of godly faith is detrimental to society, rendering nonbelievers intrinsically suspect and second-class citizens.
This bigotry, the writers say, is unwarranted, and they argue that non-theistic people are actually better global citizens.
A growing body of social science research reveals that atheists, and non-religious people in general, are far from the unsavory beings many assume them to be. On basic questions of morality and human decency — issues such as governmental use of torture, the death penalty, punitive hitting of children, racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, environmental degradation or human rights — the irreligious tend to be more ethical than their religious peers, particularly compared with those who describe themselves as very religious.
Obviously, many believers will take issue with that. But the column is worth reading, especially for those who see atheists as somehow immoral.
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