United States atheists discriminated against

This video from the USA says about itself:

Philosophy On the Ground is a series of interviews with people at the center of some of the most compelling and difficult issues of the day. We examine how our philosophical beliefs influence our lives, how our thoughts and values drive our actions, and what happens when, philosophically speaking, the rubber meets the road.

At Cranston West High School, in Cranston, Rhode Island, controversy has flared up around a fifty year old banner entitled “School Prayer.” After a complaint by the ACLU, the issue has polarized the community over issues of church/state separation and the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Jessica Ahlquist is a student at the center of the controversy, an avowed atheist fighting to have the prayer removed.

By Greta Christina in the USA:

10 Scariest States to Be An Atheist

If you’re finishing your degree in secular studies and are trying to decide where in the country you want to plant your godless stakes, here are some places to avoid.

June 8, 2011

Let’s be clear. It’s not like it’s easy to be an atheist anywhere in the U.S. Atheists are the most distrusted and disliked of all minority groups — more than blacks, Hispanics, Jews, Muslims, immigrants, and gays and lesbians — and polls show that Americans are less likely to vote for an atheist than they are for a person in any other minority or marginalized category. And this hostility can have serious consequences, in the form of harassment, bullying, ostracism, vandalism, alienation from family, loss of jobs, and more.

But to be honest, there are parts of the country where being an atheist really isn’t all that awful. Heck, I live in one of them. There’s some bigotry, some discrimination, a fair amount of misunderstanding and even hostility… but all things considered, it’s pretty okay. And then, there are some parts of the country where being an atheist sucks.

Let’s talk about a few of those, shall we? …

#10: Pennsylvania. Yes, I know. Everyone’s expecting this list to be overloaded with the deep South. And I’ll be getting there soon enough. But religious privilege and anti-atheist hostility don’t stay below the Mason-Dixon line. Anti-atheist bigotry can, and does, happen anywhere.

And Pennsylvania is Exhibit A. Specifically, Annville, Pennsylvania, where atheist veterans marching in the Memorial Day parade were jeered, booed, insulted, cursed at, yelled at to leave, and told they were going to burn in hell. Not once or twice by a couple of fanatics… but repeatedly, throughout the course of the parade.

Let me spell that one out again. In small town America, veterans — veterans, on Memorial Day, marching in a Memorial Day parade — were jeered, booed, insulted, cursed at, yelled at to leave, and told they were going to burn in hell.

Because they were atheists.

‘Nuff said.

#9: Idaho. Where atheist billboards — not in-your-face controversial ones, but almost aggressively mild ones, simply announcing that atheists exist and are good people — are vandalized on a regular basis. According to Maggie Ardiente of the American Humanist Association, “Thanks to a member of ours who lives in Moscow, Idaho, the AHA has been putting up billboards over the past two years to promote humanism and atheism. When we put up a factual, non-controversial billboard that said, ‘Millions are Good Without God,’ it was vandalized twice! We continue to put billboards in the area, but there is often additional security provided when we put up a new one.”

Just like it says in the Bible: “And whatever place will not take you in and will not give ear to you, when you go away, put off the dust from your feet… and then deface their billboards like a douchebag.”

#8: Arkansas. (I told you I’d get to the deep South!) Hey, at least in Idaho, atheists can put up their dang billboards. In Arkansas, the Central Arkansas Transit Authority (CATA) has flatly rejected an atheist ad that the Central Arkansas Coalition of Reason wanted to put up on 18 buses… solely and entirely because the content of the ads — “Are you good without God? Millions are” — is atheist. …

#7: Alabama. The state where the actual governor, Robert Bentley, said in actual words, “Anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I’m telling you, you’re not my brother and you’re not my sister.” The state where it took an interfaith delegation, led by the Anti-Defamation league, to inform him that there are non-Christians in Alabama. …

#6: North Carolina. Where in December of 2009, Cecil Bothwell couldn’t even get elected to the Asheville City Council, without people trying to invoke laws — antiquated laws overruled by the Supreme Court, but laws nonetheless — banning him from taking office because he’s an atheist. …

#5. Florida. On the other hand, in Florida, you might get kicked out of a city council meeting simply for wearing an atheist T-shirt. And if you protest against prayers at city council meetings, you might actually get arrested.

So that’s gotta suck.

#4: Rhode Island. Did you hear the one about the public high school with the prayer banner in the school gym — a prayer banner specifically addressed to “Our Heavenly Father”? The public high school that got asked to take the banner down by 15-year-old atheist high school student Jessica Ahlquist, since it’s an unconstitutional promotion of religion by government? The public high school that’s digging in its heels and hanging on to the banner, despite decades of unambiguous legal precedent making it clear that they’re in the wrong? The public high school that’s getting sued by said atheist high school student and the ACLU… and is still digging in its heels, devoting extensive time and resources to defending their promotion of religion?

That’s Rhode Island, folks. And this story isn’t just about a school administration insisting on its right to unconstitutionally establish religion. It’s about a community’s ostracization of an atheist teenager — in some cases to the point of threats of violence. Ahlquist has been shunned, insulted, vilified, and even threatened with violence. Students in an English class in her school said — during class — that she should be “smacked around and beat up” for fighting the prayer banner. Comments in the Providence Journal article on the story were ugly, personal, even threatening — to a great extent about the ACLU, but largely about Ahlquist herself. (“I think you need to talk to a doctor and get help… you are sick in the head.” “Looks like we have a moon bat in the making.” “Make no mistake, Jessica and the Bolshevik thugs representing her are driven by anti-Christian bigotry and intolerance and censorship… Curse them to hell.”)

And this is in New England. This is Rhode Island. The first of the 13 original colonies to declare independence from British rule. The state specifically founded as a place of religious freedom, as a response to religious persecution. A slat in the cradle of liberty. And they are vilifying and threatening a 15-year-old girl for being an atheist, and for insisting that her public school follow the Constitution and not shove religion down her throat. Anti-atheist bigotry is everywhere. It’s not just in Alabama or Mississippi. Or even Texas.

#3: Texas. Wow. Where do you start with Texas? The public high school graduation ceremony that was like a revival meeting? The transit company that changed their policies and stopped accepting any bus ads for any religious organizations… just so they wouldn’t have to take ads from atheists? The governor who responded to economic troubles, natural disasters, and terrorism by initiating a state day of prayer, and has exhorted Texans to “call on Jesus“? The governor, again, who decreed three official state Days of Prayer for Rain? The public school where they distribute Bibles? The high school textbooks which teach that the Bible was a “foundational text” in the framing of the U.S., that the King James Bible “remains one of the… most-loved books in the history of the world,” and that “the sun went black” when Jesus was crucified? The state Constitution that says, “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall any one be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being”? The teachers that get fired, not for being atheists, but for being suspected of being atheists? The town where they get seriously hysterical about atheists playing “Jingle Bells” in a Christmas parade?

Come on. Did you really expect Texas not to be on this list?

#2: Mississippi. I could say a lot about Mississippi. For instance, I could talk about how, when the Second Chance Prom was being organized for lesbian student Constance McMillan, the state chapter of the freaking ACLU refused to take money from the American Humanist Association and the Stiefel Freethought Foundation… because it was atheist money. I shit you not. In an e-mail message to AHA, Jennifer Carr, the fundraiser for the ACLU of Mississippi, said, “Although we support and understand organizations like yours, the majority of Mississippians tremble in terror at the word ‘atheist.'” The ACLU would later apologize and accept the money; but, as Maggie Ardiente of the AHA, puts it, “We were very disappointed to see an organization that’s famously known for standing up for everyone’s rights — including the right to be an atheist or humanist — initially discriminate against us.”

That’s reasonably messed-up. But I want to focus instead on a much more practical, nuts-and-bolts, life-screwing-up form of anti-atheist bigotry — child custody. …

And finally, we come to my Number One Worst State to Be an Atheist:

#1: Louisiana.

I freely admit that this list, and the order I’m presenting it, is subjective. It’s not based on a careful statistical analysis of rigorously gathered data based on journalistically objective criteria about anti-atheist bigotry. It’s based on stories that happened to get my atheist dander up. It’s based on stories that made me sad — and enraged.

And the story that happened in Louisiana made me sad, and enraged, more than almost any other.

I’m talking about Damon Fowler.

I’m talking about the atheist high school student who opposed his public school having a school-sponsored prayer at his graduation. Whose name was leaked. And who, as a result, was hounded, pilloried, and ostracized by his community; publicly demeaned by one of his teachers; physically threatened; and thrown out by his parents, who cut off his financial support, kicked him out of the house, and threw his belongings onto the front porch. Whose public school went ahead and had the graduation prayer anyway. Who has had to leave his home and move in with his sister near Dallas, Texas.

You know things are bad when your atheist safe haven from extremist religious persecution is in Texas.

That’s Louisiana.

Alabama Senate passes radical anti-abortion measure with no rape exception + 10 year prison sentences for doctors: here. And here.

Alabama’s new legislation goes beyond the racist and anti-democratic measures passed by Arizona last year: here.

Several states are racing to enact measures designed to keep working class and poor people from voting, including photo ID requirements, restrictions on early and absentee voting, and the elimination of same-day registration: here.

USA: Is Religion a Greater Political Barrier Than Race? Here.

Hate Crimes Against Latinos Rise 47 Percent in California: here.

“I’m Getting Arrested” App Aims to Help Drivers. Valeria Fernández, New America Media: “A group of pro-immigrant rights activists in Arizona aim to develop a smartphone application that would help immigrants notify friends, family and their attorney if they are detained and arrested during a traffic stop…. A recent Department of Justice investigation on racial profiling of Latinos by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office found that Latinos were four to nine times more likely to be pulled over in a traffic stop than non-Latinos”: here.

3 thoughts on “United States atheists discriminated against

  1. Thousands reject new migrant law

    United States: Demonstrators turned out in force on Saturday for a peaceful but defiant protest against Alabama state’s draconian new law which outlaws giving help to illegal immigrants.

    Thousands joined the procession which was organised by religious groups.

    Organisers have warned that the plan to hound economic migrants – almost all from Latin America – will whip up an atmosphere of fear and division and lead to the abuse of undocumented workers.

    “It’s a terrible law and needs to be revoked,” said protester Jo Anne Gaede. “They are people just like me.”



  2. Pingback: German religious dance bans under fire | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: Anti-war atheist told US citizenship for Christians only | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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