Atheists deserve tolerance, not hate

By Steve Avila |Staff Writer|

Atheists are the most hated group in America, according to a study by the University of Minnesota.

If so, this is a sad indictment of the so-called love of diversity in the United States.

Minnesota’s study asked its subjects which group doesn’t agree with their vision of American society and which group they would discourage their children from marrying.

Atheists made up nearly 40 percent of the first question and 47.6 percent of the second.

It’s hard to believe that a society known for its diversity and its many different cultures has such an aversion to atheists because of their beliefs.

What this study implies is that Americans are more willing to tolerate someone believing in a different god than the one they believe in rather than someone disbelieving in a supreme being.

This is ridiculous, to say the least, and even heartbreaking.

How can people of faith preach things like respect and love  when they treat people differently because of a different belief?

Let me be clear, I was raised Catholic and believe in God, yet I’m appalled by the idea of mistreating someone because he/she is an atheist.

Believing someone is a bad person because he or she is an atheist is no different and just as outrageous as automatically labeling someone due to that person being a particular color or ethnicity.

Here at CSUSB there are religious students and groups abound whom I had the chance to speak with.

Heather Young, president of the Latter Day Saint Student Association, made it clear that she does her best to be tolerant with everyone, has no problem with atheists and feels judging them differently is simply prejudice.

Devout Christian and CSUSB alumnus Jessica Bowen said, “I don’t think anyone should be treated differently. As a Christian I am called to treat people how Jesus treated people, and he would love an atheist and treat him with respect.”

Yet there definitely seems to be discordance at work.

After contacting members of the campus’s Secular Student Association (SSA), I was treated to an unforgivable experience.

“When religious people hear about my club, they automatically assume that we are some sort of hate group,” said James Neal, SSA President.

“Several girls have broken up with me because they couldn’t accept the fact that I wasn’t a Christian,” said Aaron Carter.

Other members went on to tell stories of having lost jobs, friends and family members due to their being atheist.

In this country, it’s supposed to be wrong to persecute anyone based on their religious beliefs.

Persecuting atheists is no different.

Instead of judging atheists, attempting to make them feel shameful because of what they believe, the ones who treat them in this way should be ashamed of their own actions instead.

Atheism should not be frowned upon here, or in any other country. They shouldn’t be viewed as immoral or untrustworthy or anything in the nature.

According to Gregory S. Paul’s writing in “The Journal of Religion & Society,” “in almost all regards the highly secular democracies consistently enjoy low rates of societal dysfunction, while pro-religious and anti-evolution America performs poorly.”

Secular locations have fewer problems than religious ones according to Paul.

What should that tell us?

Anything related to religion should be free from persecution, and atheism must not be regarded as an exception.

Religious or not, show a bit of tolerance. Don’t judge an atheist or any other belief that you don’t agree with before you learn anything about it.



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