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el_bryanto

(11,804 posts)
Tue Mar 25, 2014, 11:02 AM Mar 2014

Agree or Disagree - Atheists are a persecuted minority in 2014 America.

I should say there are two ways to ask this question. One is to focus on how much they are persecuted, and the other is to gauge how firmly you agree with the proposition they are persecuted. I chose the latter.

Bryant


11 votes, 0 passes | Time left: Unlimited
Totally Agree
4 (36%)
Somewhat Agree
4 (36%)
Neither Agree nor Disagree
0 (0%)
Somewhat Disagree
0 (0%)
Totally Disagree
2 (18%)
You know who should be persecuted? People who post bullshit polls.
1 (9%)
I like to vote!
0 (0%)
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Disclaimer: This is an Internet poll
54 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
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Agree or Disagree - Atheists are a persecuted minority in 2014 America. (Original Post) el_bryanto Mar 2014 OP
Persecution by 'default'? Erich Bloodaxe BSN Mar 2014 #1
That's my observation as well el_bryanto Mar 2014 #2
Better never say sending out good vibes HockeyMom Mar 2014 #5
I live in NY so I don't se it here but I am sure in many rural areas Atheists get discriminated hrmjustin Mar 2014 #3
I think it is more anyone who does not identify as "Christian". redstatebluegirl Mar 2014 #4
Your religion, or lack of one, HockeyMom Mar 2014 #8
Years ago, no one asked because it was ASSUMED everyone believed. cleanhippie Mar 2014 #30
Not in how I would define edhopper Mar 2014 #6
Good point. Erich Bloodaxe BSN Mar 2014 #7
I think "persecution" edhopper Mar 2014 #10
To me, it also implies conscious intent. Erich Bloodaxe BSN Mar 2014 #14
The issue is that when you start parsing it that bad el_bryanto Mar 2014 #9
True edhopper Mar 2014 #12
That was the other way I considered structuring it el_bryanto Mar 2014 #17
In all fairness LostOne4Ever Mar 2014 #24
In all fairness, okasha Mar 2014 #40
No disagreement there (nt) LostOne4Ever Mar 2014 #41
I was hesitant to Dorian Gray Mar 2014 #32
So where did the phrase "persecuted minority" come from? skepticscott Mar 2014 #11
Fundy Christians edhopper Mar 2014 #13
Well I don't want to say that I made it up, as I have heard it said elsewhere el_bryanto Mar 2014 #16
In other words, you can't point to any American atheists skepticscott Mar 2014 #18
Perhaps I should make it clear - I think that Atheists are a Persecuted Minority el_bryanto Mar 2014 #19
Unless you have a very bizarre definition skepticscott Mar 2014 #22
OK I apologize for not phrasing my poll exactly as you would like me to. nt el_bryanto Mar 2014 #23
You religionists just never get tired of putting words in people's mouths, do you? skepticscott Mar 2014 #43
Why do you want to fight so much? Do I anger you up so much el_bryanto Mar 2014 #44
If you're wishing for a more congenial atmosphere skepticscott Mar 2014 #45
Which way did I vote? That's easy enough to check. I've also expressed my opinion el_bryanto Mar 2014 #46
The fact that you say skepticscott Mar 2014 #47
Some disagreed with my wording, and we discussed it. Some didn't. el_bryanto Mar 2014 #48
27 did. Pesky facts. rug Mar 2014 #49
Persecuted? No. Subject to prejudice? Yes. cbayer Mar 2014 #15
More of your invented falsehoods about atheists skepticscott Mar 2014 #21
Well of course they are. TygrBright Mar 2014 #20
The privileged rarely persecute their own, let alone for disagreeing on religious beliefs. rug Mar 2014 #25
Speaking as an atheist, I can't think of a single time in my life when I've been persecuted for Jgarrick Mar 2014 #26
I wouldn't go so far as to say "persecuted" Prophet 451 Mar 2014 #27
Villified is a good word. Mariana Mar 2014 #29
I wouldn't say Atheists are persecuted. stage left Mar 2014 #28
As others have pointed out, persecuted isn't really the right word. temporary311 Mar 2014 #31
Not American, so didn't vote LeftishBrit Mar 2014 #33
Do atheists represent a political constituency with a discernable political agenda? struggle4progress Mar 2014 #35
No more than women, Jews, Muslims, African-Americans, etc.... LeftishBrit Mar 2014 #36
Admitting to atheism doesn't automatically lead to ineligibility for office struggle4progress Mar 2014 #37
Certainly great progress... LeftishBrit Mar 2014 #38
More precisely, the poll shows nearly half would not vote for an atheist for president struggle4progress Mar 2014 #39
I believe there is an open atheist in Congress. The choice of pronoun is deliberate, however. N.T. Donald Ian Rankin Mar 2014 #50
Imagine, for a moment, in a discussion about ANY other minority... trotsky Mar 2014 #52
Those laws were overturned okasha Mar 2014 #42
Ergo, discrimination against atheists doesn't exist. trotsky Mar 2014 #53
Reactions to different views probably vary according to where one lives struggle4progress Mar 2014 #34
I wouldn't use the word persecuted Niceguy1 Mar 2014 #51
I wouldn't say we're persecuted in America at all. JoeyT Mar 2014 #54

Erich Bloodaxe BSN

(14,733 posts)
1. Persecution by 'default'?
Tue Mar 25, 2014, 11:09 AM
Mar 2014

I don't get egged. I don't have people parading around in front of my house.

But if I make were to run for office, the fact that I've made my religious beliefs known would be used to keep me from getting elected, since polls suggest that pretty much nobody is willing to vote for atheists.

And when you're out job searching, you likewise want to keep your atheism 'in the closet', and when potential employers make some 'offhand comment', to make the requisite 'faithy' replies to sound like you're Christian enough.

So it's not blatant, but being an atheist is sort of like having a contagious disease to people who don't already know you and are friendly. Thankfully, newer generations seem to be less and less anti-atheist, but they're generally still not yet the ones doing the hiring.

el_bryanto

(11,804 posts)
2. That's my observation as well
Tue Mar 25, 2014, 11:12 AM
Mar 2014

Particularly when it comes to elections.

Employment is more fungible as there are cultures which won't hold being an atheist against you - both corporate and geographical cultures. On the other hand, where I live in the south, it can potentially be a real barrier to employment, and that's despicable.

Bryant

 

hrmjustin

(71,265 posts)
3. I live in NY so I don't se it here but I am sure in many rural areas Atheists get discriminated
Tue Mar 25, 2014, 11:12 AM
Mar 2014

against.

redstatebluegirl

(12,265 posts)
4. I think it is more anyone who does not identify as "Christian".
Tue Mar 25, 2014, 11:13 AM
Mar 2014

Where we live, the first question someone asks you when you meet is "what church do you attend". When we say Unitarian Universalist, they frown like we sacrifice animals or something. I even had a neighbor who sent his 14 year old son over to ask me if I was a Christian, while Dad stood on the porch watching.

My answer to him was that it was a very personal question and not an appropriate one. I told him I respected his religion and his family but would not answer. The next thing I knew the neighborhood was abuzz with the news that my husband and I were atheists. Not that I care but it was a tough few months to be sure.

 

HockeyMom

(14,337 posts)
8. Your religion, or lack of one,
Tue Mar 25, 2014, 11:15 AM
Mar 2014

is nobody's business but yours. Years ago it would have been considered very RUDE at least to even ask it.

edhopper

(34,022 posts)
6. Not in how I would define
Tue Mar 25, 2014, 11:13 AM
Mar 2014

persecuted. Native Americans, Black People, Gay People, they have been persecuted.
Discriminated against? Yes.

edhopper

(34,022 posts)
10. I think "persecution"
Tue Mar 25, 2014, 11:19 AM
Mar 2014

is such a Christian meme. I don't relate to it, at least not in this country.
I am sure there are countries where an atheist would be put to death for blasphemy, but here it is just prejudice and discrimination.

Erich Bloodaxe BSN

(14,733 posts)
14. To me, it also implies conscious intent.
Tue Mar 25, 2014, 11:24 AM
Mar 2014

You can be biased or bigoted against someone without consciously deciding to do so, but you have to decide to persecute someone, as I interpret the word.

el_bryanto

(11,804 posts)
9. The issue is that when you start parsing it that bad
Tue Mar 25, 2014, 11:19 AM
Mar 2014

I feel like it makes the situation American Atheists face seem "not so bad." Having your job prospects hurt or not being able to be represented or run for office is not as bad as having a cross burnt on your lawn, but it's still bad.

Bryant

edhopper

(34,022 posts)
12. True
Tue Mar 25, 2014, 11:22 AM
Mar 2014

And it is much easier to be a closet atheist. But overall, job discrimination isn't on par with lynching or genocide.
That's why I would not use the term "persecution".

el_bryanto

(11,804 posts)
17. That was the other way I considered structuring it
Tue Mar 25, 2014, 11:27 AM
Mar 2014

Which is how badly do Atheists have it in America in 2014 - and set up some categories for that. But it seemed unwieldy to me, and also it opens us up to thinking "Well atheists don't have it that bad - so why are they complaining all the time." Which is not my opinion; I think that they do suffer discrimination or persecution or whatever you want to call it. They pay a societal cost for being atheist.

Bryant

LostOne4Ever

(9,329 posts)
24. In all fairness
Tue Mar 25, 2014, 11:57 AM
Mar 2014

We have been burned at the stake if you go far enough into the past. Yeah its WAY WAY better now but almost every group in America can say that.


okasha

(11,573 posts)
40. In all fairness,
Tue Mar 25, 2014, 08:38 PM
Mar 2014

so have religous nonconformIsts of all types, the nonconformist type being defined by whatever was considered conformist at a given time and in a given place. .

Dorian Gray

(13,578 posts)
32. I was hesitant to
Tue Mar 25, 2014, 03:34 PM
Mar 2014

vote for persecution, but I definitely agree with this. When there are legalities in some areas about atheists running for office. Yes, discriminated against.

When friends of mine (who don't bother going to church but are self described as catholic) show shock and awe when another friend comes out as a non-believer... there is a lot of ignorance out there.

 

skepticscott

(13,029 posts)
11. So where did the phrase "persecuted minority" come from?
Tue Mar 25, 2014, 11:21 AM
Mar 2014

Are there American atheists out there claiming that status, or is it just a strawman that someone made up?

el_bryanto

(11,804 posts)
16. Well I don't want to say that I made it up, as I have heard it said elsewhere
Tue Mar 25, 2014, 11:24 AM
Mar 2014

But I chose to use it here - so I guess if you are looking for someone to blame, you can blame me.

Bryant

 

skepticscott

(13,029 posts)
18. In other words, you can't point to any American atheists
Tue Mar 25, 2014, 11:30 AM
Mar 2014

who are claiming this status, and your question is just a disingenuous strawman.

Thanks for the confirmation.

el_bryanto

(11,804 posts)
19. Perhaps I should make it clear - I think that Atheists are a Persecuted Minority
Tue Mar 25, 2014, 11:33 AM
Mar 2014

I personally think that. Which is why I posted it. You can be a believer and still feel that Atheists get a raw deal in America. I'm not attributing anything to American Atheists, I'm saying what I think, and see if people agree or disagree with me.

Bryant

 

skepticscott

(13,029 posts)
22. Unless you have a very bizarre definition
Tue Mar 25, 2014, 11:39 AM
Mar 2014

of "persecuted", with no concept of the distinction between persecution and discrimination, I doubt that very much. Only fundy Christians look at "persecution" like that.

 

skepticscott

(13,029 posts)
43. You religionists just never get tired of putting words in people's mouths, do you?
Tue Mar 25, 2014, 10:05 PM
Mar 2014

Or of fake apologies. Where did I ever say how I'd "like" you to phrase this so-called poll? I'm pointing out that you don't even have a basic grasp of the terms you're using, and as a result, your "poll" is useless.

el_bryanto

(11,804 posts)
44. Why do you want to fight so much? Do I anger you up so much
Tue Mar 25, 2014, 11:36 PM
Mar 2014

that you have to lash out like this? Particularly on a poll where, regardless of whether I phrased it badly or not, I basically argue that we should be aware that Atheists in America are being treated unjustly?

Bryant

 

skepticscott

(13,029 posts)
45. If you're wishing for a more congenial atmosphere
Wed Mar 26, 2014, 06:16 PM
Mar 2014

not putting words in my mouth and misrepresenting what I've said would be a good start. Yes, that does irritate me, and no, I don't respond kindly to deliberate falsehoods about my positions.

And no, your OP doesn't "argue" any such thing. It simply asks whether or not atheists are a "persecuted minority".

el_bryanto

(11,804 posts)
46. Which way did I vote? That's easy enough to check. I've also expressed my opinion
Wed Mar 26, 2014, 06:28 PM
Mar 2014

several times in this discussion.

Bryant

 

skepticscott

(13,029 posts)
47. The fact that you say
Wed Mar 26, 2014, 06:35 PM
Mar 2014

atheists are a "persecuted minority" when not even any of the atheists who have responded think so, and that you don't even seem to grasp the difference between persecution and discrimination, convinces me that you haven't really looked at or thought about the issue in a way that should be taken seriously.

el_bryanto

(11,804 posts)
48. Some disagreed with my wording, and we discussed it. Some didn't.
Wed Mar 26, 2014, 06:38 PM
Mar 2014

Most didn't suggest that I was putting forward a disingenuous strawman.

Bryant

cbayer

(146,218 posts)
15. Persecuted? No. Subject to prejudice? Yes.
Tue Mar 25, 2014, 11:24 AM
Mar 2014

I think there are social ramifications in some areas of the country that may have an impact on career, social standing, etc. I think that some atheists must stay in the closet in order to get along in some communities.

There are still states that have long outdated statutes about having to be a believer to run for office. There are studies (though none very recent at this point) that show that there is a low level of trust in atheists by the general public.

But I think these things are changing and will continue to change as atheism becomes normalized.

OTOH, the demographics of the atheist population put them on a pretty high point of privilege - white, male, straight, educated, well employed. Part of those demographics may be a reflection of how those with the the most may have the least to loose by "coming out".

There is a very hostile sub-group within the atheist community that I think is going to slow the overall progress, though. There is a sub-group that wants to rid the world of religion and has no qualms about ridiculing religious believers or taking the position that all religious believers have psychiatric disorders.

I think it's highly unlikely that a community under that kind of attack is going to welcome atheists with open arms, but I also think this is a problem that atheist activists need to tackle from within.

But bullies, being bullies, are often difficult to confront.

 

skepticscott

(13,029 posts)
21. More of your invented falsehoods about atheists
Tue Mar 25, 2014, 11:36 AM
Mar 2014

You just never give up with that crap, do you?

Can you point us to the sub-group that "wants to rid the world of religion" (as opposed to thinking we'd just be better off if it faded away)? As far as having "no qualms about ridiculing religious believers", you're as guilty of that as anyone, so I wouldn't point fingers there. Unless you're claiming that calling creationists "a bunch of dumbasses" isn't ridiculing them.

TygrBright

(20,814 posts)
20. Well of course they are.
Tue Mar 25, 2014, 11:33 AM
Mar 2014

The only thing that still surprises me is the extent to which the general public seems unaware of and/or dismissive of the entrenched and even institutionalized discrimination against non-belief in this country.

wearily,
Bright

 

Jgarrick

(521 posts)
26. Speaking as an atheist, I can't think of a single time in my life when I've been persecuted for
Tue Mar 25, 2014, 01:01 PM
Mar 2014

my lack of belief in the supernatural. The most reaction I've ever had is "Um...really?"

That having been said, I'm sure there are others who have been discriminated against for their atheism.

Prophet 451

(9,796 posts)
27. I wouldn't go so far as to say "persecuted"
Tue Mar 25, 2014, 01:23 PM
Mar 2014

"Persecution", to me, summons images of pogroms, systematic denial of rights and so on. I'd go as far as "villified" maybe.

Mariana

(14,870 posts)
29. Villified is a good word.
Tue Mar 25, 2014, 01:46 PM
Mar 2014

In some parts of the US atheists are actively discriminated against, and it can be detrimental to them.

My family were shunned by our neighbor across the street when we lived in Texas. He would not speak, or wave, or acknowledge our existence in any way. His wife would smile and wave if he wasn't with her, but if they were outside together, she would ignore us as well. I thought that was pretty sad, I think she was a nice woman and we might have been friends. Anyway, his shunning us didn't do us any hardship, but there are plenty of people like him in positions of power where they can really do some harm.

stage left

(2,977 posts)
28. I wouldn't say Atheists are persecuted.
Tue Mar 25, 2014, 01:45 PM
Mar 2014

I think it's pretty much fundamental, evangelical Christians who have a lock on that. We non-believers are torturing them by not buying into their beliefs and resisting, as much as we can, their apparent desire to turn the US into a theocracy. I think atheists are discriminated against, though. They're seen as having no morals and no ethics and as not worthy of trust. That's my perception from what I read and see. I live in a place where the plumber and such have trucks emblazoned with bible verses and the fact that they are Christians, often right close to the stars and bars in their rear window. That fact is on signs outside of businesses everywhere. I can't really imagine anyone advertising as a Humanist, for instance, to recommend themselves. If someone did, I think I might see discrimination become persecution double quick.

I haven't always been an atheist. In fact in my teens, I was a passionate Christian. I still believe that some of the things Jesus said are good things to live by. It's hard to put a finger on what changed me. Reading, living for awhile elsewhere among different kinds of people? But eventually the way I'd grown to perceive the world just wouldn't align with Christian beliefs. I could no longer twist my thinking around to fit the pattern. I no longer wanted to.

I'm still, though, rather far back in the closet, just venturing a toe out, as I am now.

temporary311

(956 posts)
31. As others have pointed out, persecuted isn't really the right word.
Tue Mar 25, 2014, 02:51 PM
Mar 2014

And given that we aren't easily identifiable, at least not on sight, it would hard to really persecute us in a meaningful sense. Not unless someone were to seriously abuse the meta data that's been collected on all of us, at least.

LeftishBrit

(41,247 posts)
33. Not American, so didn't vote
Tue Mar 25, 2014, 05:38 PM
Mar 2014

My general impression however is that atheists are not persecuted in America, but they do, in at leastsome parts of America, suffer discrimination and lack of political representation.

LeftishBrit

(41,247 posts)
36. No more than women, Jews, Muslims, African-Americans, etc....
Tue Mar 25, 2014, 06:02 PM
Mar 2014

However, if there was not a single, or perhaps only one, female/Jewish/Muslim/African-American member of Congress, and if admitting to be any of those things automatically led to ineligibility for office in most places, it would be discrimination. (Indeed, I would say that even the approximately 20% representation of women in the legislatures of both our countries is arguably discrimination.)

To clarify - I am not proposing that atheists should have their own political party, or that anyone should vote for atheist candidates just because they're atheists; simply that atheists should have the same right to hold office as anyone else. As I understand, there are even a few states in America where atheists are explicitly barred by the state constitution for holding office; in the majority of states, they are implicitly barred by voter hostility to atheists. Despite the lack of official church-state separation in the UK, this is far less true here.

struggle4progress

(118,566 posts)
37. Admitting to atheism doesn't automatically lead to ineligibility for office
Tue Mar 25, 2014, 06:28 PM
Mar 2014

While some states still have laws "on the books," forbidding atheists from holding office, these laws have been unenforceable for over fifty years now

Nor is it entirely clear that voter hostility to atheists today implicitly bars atheists from public office"



http://www.gallup.com/poll/155285/atheists-muslims-bias-presidential-candidates.aspx

LeftishBrit

(41,247 posts)
38. Certainly great progress...
Tue Mar 25, 2014, 07:07 PM
Mar 2014

nonetheless nearly half would not vote for an atheist.

It probably depends where you live, to quite an extent: some parts of America will accept atheists much more than others. But even in liberal Massachusetts, Barney Frank only admitted to being an atheist after leaving office.

Is there any open atheist in Congress now?

In the British Parliament, there are quite a few open atheists, including 2 of the 3 main party leaders; and even more MPs whose religious status is unknown, not because they're keeping it a secret, but because it's not something that the voters worry about in most places.

struggle4progress

(118,566 posts)
39. More precisely, the poll shows nearly half would not vote for an atheist for president
Tue Mar 25, 2014, 07:50 PM
Mar 2014

The implications for down-ballot races are not immediately clear

trotsky

(49,533 posts)
52. Imagine, for a moment, in a discussion about ANY other minority...
Thu Mar 27, 2014, 08:20 AM
Mar 2014

that faces negative attitude from large numbers of Americans, what would be the reaction to someone so steadfastly asserting that there's really no problem; that it's not legal to discriminate, therefore it doesn't happen, etc.?

If someone were to post in a thread about racial minorities facing discrimination, saying, well, you minorities don't have it so bad, a few firings here or there, you know there are laws against that, so you shouldn't make such a big deal about it... is there any doubt such a person would be labeled a bigot, and probably forced from the site?

But when it's atheists who are the minority, meh, no big deal. Pile on. Such hatred, I just don't get it. From the alleged followers of the Prince of Peace, the God of Love. They show their common roots with the Pat Robertsons and Fred Phelpses of the world when they do that, and it's downright scary.

struggle4progress

(118,566 posts)
34. Reactions to different views probably vary according to where one lives
Tue Mar 25, 2014, 05:45 PM
Mar 2014

When I lived in Texas years ago, some businesses seemed to make a big point of "being Christian" and starting the business day with an office prayer

I never worked at such a place, but a large number of people I met told me there was nothing wrong with that and thought it was fine for the company to fire you if you didn't share the boss's religious beliefs

Less chance of hearing that in NYC, I expect

Niceguy1

(2,467 posts)
51. I wouldn't use the word persecuted
Thu Mar 27, 2014, 06:23 AM
Mar 2014

No atheist in the us is hunted down, imprisoned, burned at the stake, confined to a reservation, etc.

You just can't look at someone and say, hey thats an atheist, lersn mess with them

JoeyT

(6,785 posts)
54. I wouldn't say we're persecuted in America at all.
Thu Mar 27, 2014, 10:09 AM
Mar 2014

I don't think we're the most discriminated against, either. Just from what I've seen in day-to-day life, LGBT people are probably #1 for facing discrimination, then at #2 is everyone that doesn't identify as a Christian, whatever they might be.

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