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Machines Like Us

Atheists under attack

Thursday, 22 February 2007

Author Duncan Bell writes: "I recently heard that the "Paula Zahn Show" on CNN would be featuring a story on discrimination against atheists, and being atheist myself, I tuned in to hear what Zahn had to say about me. The show told the stories of several atheist families that were forced to leave their homes because their respective communities turned against them. When one family complained to their local school board about Bible studies taking place in their son's classroom, they were ostracized by their community and forced to move. I was thoroughly pleased to see atheism being addressed by the media -- that is, until I witnessed what happened next.

"The second portion of the show featured a discussion between Zahn and three of her journalist peers over the question of whether widespread discrimination against atheists exists in America. What should have been a civilized discourse on this complex issue amounted to an audacious atheist-bashing session, which was in no small part due to the fact that there were no atheists present to offer a counterpoint. The content of this "discussion" included repeated insinuations that atheists should "shut up" and keep their beliefs to themselves and that "atheists are the intolerant ones" rather than the Christian majority.

"Zahn's story was prompted by a 2006 study by the University of Minnesota, which found that atheists were the most hated of minority groups, listed below other marginalized groups like Muslims and homosexuals. This being the case, I find it both sad and ironic that her show has only strengthened this conclusion. But why is it that there is such prejudice against atheists? It is my firm belief that it stems from a widespread misunderstanding of the atheist perspective."

From The Breeze