Came across an article by John Leo making the rounds of the Internet news sites over the weekend. It is an op/ed column published in US News and World Report. Leo has concerns about the overuse of the label “victim” to the point that he believes no one seems to be responsible for anything anymore.
One example he uses was this:
Atheists are victimized by religious people. “The McCarthy era is the last time this climate existed,” said beleaguered California atheist Stuart Bechman. The Los Angeles Times said nonbelievers feel stress when a major leaguer points skyward after a hit or when an actor thanks God after winning an Oscar. Some join atheist groups anonymously to avoid harassment. Still, atheist organizations are lobbying in Washington and hope to have at least one presidential candidate court their votes in 2008. Thank God.
I read the LA Times article and didn’t agree with Bechman’s assessment about major leaguer pointing to the sky after a hit or an actor thanking a god for their Oscar was being stressful or even offensive to a non-believer. It should be offensive to the believer since the person thanking God is thanking Him for selfish means. I don’t know how big offense that would be since I’m not a believer but it can’t be too good.
I find it hard to go along with the idea that Atheists are in fact victims. While we do get the negative reporting and poll numbers, I can’t help but think that it could be worse.
In some countries, now and in the past, they jailed or murdered people with the “wrong” beliefs.
I just laugh when I hear the religious right breathlessly exclaim how secular humanists want to wipe out all public forms of religious expression here in the US (like we have that kind of power ever) but when they do complain about Christian’s being arrested in China, I can sympathize and agree that those actions are wrong.
Atheists may not be victims in the sense that Christians can be victims in countries like China but Atheists (and most non-believers) do suffer from the negative attitude as illustrated in the article by Leo that I started this posting with.
Obviously Leo was complaining about people complaining and he included Atheists in that lot as if our concerns are trivial.
There aren’t too many groups these days that one would hear or tolerate such negative attitudes expressed so publicly without any backlash. Imagine if a popular TV host said on the air she wouldn’t vote for any one who was a Muslim or Christian with the inference that viewers follow her advice.
Or imagine the uproar if someone wrote an article complaining about Muslims trying to take over our schools and corrupt “our children”.
Atheists and secular humanists are a small enough group where one can make fun of them or express negative thoughts and ideas about and not have to really worry about losing your job or having pickets put out front of your business.
That doesn’t make such negative attitudes ok, but explains why people like Leo can disparage Atheists and seem to get away with it.