Saturday, January 24, 2009

Atheist Bigotry

This is something that really upsets vjack over at Atheist Revolution:
- Rep. Monique Davis (D-Chicago) launched a bigoted tirade against atheist activist Rob Sherman, telling him that it was dangerous for children to even know of the existence of atheism. Despite the public nature of her outburst (during the General Assembly), some media attention, and calls for her resignation, Rep. Davis faced no consequences. She merely delivered the sort of non-apologetic apology to Sherman that we have become used to seeing from bigots and resumed business as usual. Calls for a pubic apology were ignored.
- Christian schools were given free reign to discriminate against students suspected of being lesbians. In fact, it was deemed acceptable for such schools to remove students at will for "immoral or scandalous behavior that contradicts Christian values."
- Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-North Carolina) utilized blatant anti-atheist bigotry during her campaign against opponent Kay Hagan. Although Dole was ultimately defeated, the mainstream media largely ignored the bigoted nature of her strategy of painting Hagan as an atheist. In short, the whole debacle provided other politicians with little reason not to make anti-atheist bigotry a campaign strategy.
- California passed Proposition 8, rolling back previously granted civil rights to GLBT residents. They were able to do this because of a highly organized and well-funded effort by Christian extremist communities. Once again, media coverage largely ignored the religiously-motivated bigotry.
I made a comment but it ended up being long enough and good enough I wanted to turn it into my own blog post:
Don't get discouraged, vjack. Look at the reactions to the things you mentioned. Monique Davis was thoroughly condemned by everyone, which means her bigotry was clear and made even Christians uncomfortable. The Christian school thing I hadn't heard of so can't comment but with Elizabeth Dole the key point is that she lost. In a southern, conservative state her attack on atheism went completely unheeded.

The worst of them is Prop 8 here in California. That hits me personally since I live here and voted against it. But after all the demonstrations by gays who weren't going to take it any more someone did another survey and found that 8% of those who voted for Prop 8 would now vote differently, which is more than enough to change things if the vote were held today.

The ads from the Mormons were confusing and the Prop itself was confusing, I think a lot of people didn't truly understand what they were voting for. Many thought it was about protecting children and didn't even know it was about gay marriage. And I have not heard anyone on TV come down in favor of the Mormons actions in spending $20 million to support Prop 8. I think a lot of people, even those not willing to support gay marriage, were shocked at the level of bigotry that represented and the unabashed mixing of church and state. And there are now a lot of left wing TV and radio people who all made negative comments about the passing of Prop 8. Used to be only a right wing voice was heard across the airwaves, but that has changed, thanks to Keith Olbermann and Air America.

So it hasn't been all negative, change takes time but I see a change happening in the zeitgeist.

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