Persecution?
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22-12-2011, 10:23 AM
RE: Persecution?
(22-12-2011 09:24 AM)Ghost Wrote:  My initial reaction to this was to throw up. Atheists aren't persecuted. In the States, hell no. There is zero legislation that curtails their daily freedoms, quite the opposite, there's legislation that protects it and that protects them from discrimination. There are no jails full of Atheists. There are no anti-Atheist death squads. No Atheists are owned. When I think of all of that, it actually makes me a little sick when Atheists say they're being persecuted because to me, it cheapens the term and simply makes me think, "Cry baby." In the Middle East and some other areas, I'm sure it's a little different. If the news I receive is to be trusted (and there's not much reason for that sadly) then there are areas in the world where diversity is frowned upon and punished. But my interpretation of that is not that Atheists are being singled out, but that anyone who strays is persecuted. In these situations that I imagine, I can totally see persecution, but again, against all, not against Atheists in particular.

So after I wiped up my vom, I decided to look into it further. So I went to the great dispenser of perfect knowledge, the dictionary. "Tell us, oh great Dictionary, the absolute and inviolable truth so that we may forsake the need to think!"

Under PERSECUTION, the dictionary said this:
3. a program or campaign to exterminate, drive away, or subjugate a people because of their religion, race, or beliefs: the persecutions of Christians by the Romans.

So I read that and I was like, hell yeah, my vomit was warranted. My eggs and toast didn't die in vain! All hail righteous indignation!

But under PERSECUTE, the dictionary said this:
1. to pursue with harassing or oppressive treatment, especially because of religion, race, or beliefs; harass persistently.
2. to annoy or trouble persistently.

And I laughed. I suppose if one reduces persecution to harassment and annoyance, then sure, Atheists are persecuted in the US. If the documentary Jesus Camp is to be trusted, about a third of the US self-identify as Evangelical Christians. While not all of them are douche bags, a large portion of the leadership are. The reigning politics of the movement are less than inclusive. I've heard stories of people being looked at funny, being passed up for promotion, the usual suspects. So yes, they are persecuted. Not anywhere near as badly as Muslims are persecuted in the US, but still persecuted.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt

You are right that we aren't stoned to death here in the states. You do fail to realize that our children that are raised as atheists do suffer. A good mind screwing is quite damaging. My oldest son recently made the mistake of stating he was an atheist. He doesn't have the knowledge we may have on how to handle this situation. He is belittled from time to time and they can have lasting affects sometimes leading to fights. This may not be a beat down in your book but our young atheists are quite vulnerable. Failing to see the severity of this is a travesty. Not everyone has their mental capacities fully adjusted to such ridicule.

The persecution you say doesn't exist, does in fact exist quite whole heartily for our children. I have to deal with this crap quite often. It worries me when I see such a brush off. Just because you may not see the severity doesn't mean it's not a huge problem.

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22-12-2011, 10:45 AM
RE: Persecution?
Problem? Absolutely. But I am somewhere in the middle on this. I think of persecution, and it evokes images of torture, slavery, murder, and other more extreme shit. Maybe that's just a personal take on persecution, but I really don't feel like it applies to atheism in the US, like it would in the Middle East, or other places where such blasphemy would be punished by far worse things than ridicule.

In fact, I think ridicule may be a better word. Or perhaps ostracized. There's a host of words that would put a more accurate point onto what atheists experience in some parts of the states, but applying a more harsh term than is warranted, I feel, actually diminishes what these people go through. It's a terrible and damaging thing to experience ridicule, and it should be stopped, but to compare it to the images evoked by the word "persecution" is, in my mind, inaccurate.

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22-12-2011, 10:51 AM
RE: Persecution?
(22-12-2011 09:24 AM)Ghost Wrote:  My initial reaction to this was to throw up. Atheists aren't persecuted. In the States, hell no. There is zero legislation that curtails their daily freedoms, quite the opposite, there's legislation that protects it and that protects them from discrimination. There are no jails full of Atheists. There are no anti-Atheist death squads. No Atheists are owned. When I think of all of that, it actually makes me a little sick when Atheists say they're being persecuted because to me, it cheapens the term and simply makes me think, "Cry baby."

And I laughed. I suppose if one reduces persecution to harassment and annoyance, then sure, Atheists are persecuted in the US. If the documentary Jesus Camp is to be trusted, about a third of the US self-identify as Evangelical Christians. While not all of them are douche bags, a large portion of the leadership are. The reigning politics of the movement are less than inclusive. I've heard stories of people being looked at funny, being passed up for promotion, the usual suspects. So yes, they are persecuted. Not anywhere near as badly as Muslims are persecuted in the US, but still persecuted.

Matt

Matt,

You often share contrarian views here that are important to hear, or at least think about Smile

On your scale of persecution, you are correct - this is nowhere like the ME where someone runs the risk of begin beheaded for *gasp* saying Allah is not real.

My issue, especially in the political area, is where potential political leaders purport to "return this country to it's Christian roots" and propose establishing law and policy based on Christian doctrine. That inflame crowds to stop amoral atheistic behavior that isn't consistent with the bible, etc. This happens everyday at political rallies for a host of GOP presidential candidates.

Just like Gingrich responded to a gay man asking how a Gingrich presidency might treat homosexuals, Gingrich responded vote for Obama - there's no room for gays in my administration. You can bet that extends to the godless as well. Link

That to me is a form of persecution - being told you do not qualify as a full participant in the American political process by a major candidate attempting to be the leader of the country! If he were to be elected (or his ilk), you can bet it would go further than the irritant it currently is.

We are fortunate to still live in a country (for the time being) where speech still holds value - I personally see that "right" as at risk and appreciate people that stand up against it. The definition of "persecution" is but a quibble, it's a subjective term depending on where you sit...

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22-12-2011, 01:42 PM
RE: Persecution?
SEMANTICS

Besides that not one atheist can say what is experienced for all others. Some people in the states might be more harassed or abused based on their particular lack of faith than others. To lump everyone together and say that it applies to all is pretty dumb.

I for one have not been persecuted in any sense really while living in Canada, but I've got pretty thick skin too so what I would perceive as threatening or abusive another may not. Have I been shouted at? Yeah. Have I been thrown out of class for it? Yeah. Have I gotten into physical altercations because of it? Yeah. But no one has tried to arrest me for it, or execute me or maim me in some way. But the things I've dealt with could be really harmful to another person.
Not only that I'm sure there are places in the states where being an atheist openly can be a dangerous venture. Especially if that person also happens to be gay.
But You guys would know better than me about America as I've only been a visitor, and one of the times I was in Seattle during the riots. Just trying to get out.

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22-12-2011, 05:06 PM
RE: Persecution?
Its a shame this post changed into a definition battle over the word "persecute", i was really interested in what people had to say about how they felt about the climate around atheism in their repected countries, because in Australia its not an issue at all. Finally to dismiss the word persecute is strange if people are being bullied or verbally abused, just because its worse in the middle east does not mean that itisn extremely serious people commit suicide when they are constantly harrassed (that was probably a better word the titile the post with btw).

ps. for my first post this was a really interesting, great responses. thanks. looking forward to spending some more time on this site.
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23-12-2011, 02:09 AM
RE: Persecution?
Hey, Clint.

The children aren't being persecuted, they're undergoing childhood. Stark is right. It's closer to being ostracised than to persecution. I grew up black in a white neighbourhood and English in a French city. I know what it is to be ostracised. But kids telling kids they can't play their reindeer games isn't persecution. Now I'm not brushing that off. Gays get ostracised too and I'd never diminish the psychological trauma of such a thing. But we are rational people. We cannot pretend that words to not have loaded connotative meanings. When we trumpet, "Atheist children are being persecuted," we cry wolf, and we can only do that so many times before people stop listening. What you're talking about is a multiculturalism issue, not a case of persecution. If it's so bad that it's a case of harassment, then we should call it harassment. We gain nothing from the use of hyperbole.

As far as the Middle East comparison goes, I don't think we have to go as far as beheadings before we reach persecution. But if we're talking about the United States, we need to look at groups that, pretty much unarguably, are being or have been persecuted: blacks, Chinese, Natives, Arabs, and gays; and ask if Atheists meet even those standards. I think that today in the US, Arabs and Muslims are quite heavily persecuted. When I think about this honestly, I can see how life can be problematic for Atheists in the Bible belt, but their treatment doesn't come close to what happens every day to Arabs.

A couple of years ago, I was walking the South Bank of the Thames river, beard on dark-skinned face, backpack on back, taking pictures and looking very touristy, when a couple of Bobbies stopped me on suspicion of terrorism. When they discovered that I was a Canadian, the alarm bells faded, but had I been an actual Muslim, when they would have arrived at the point where they were probing my anus, looking for explosives, I might have quietly thought to myself, "This is some bullshit!"

So for sure, there's an issue. But if the sky isn't falling, we shouldn't say that the sky is falling. If someone screams, "We're all going to die!" we, as rational human beings, have the responsibility to be all like, "Uhhhhhhhh, not so much." Not to dismiss, but to contextualise.

Hey, Seasbury.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but I'm not actually a contrarian. I don't take my position simply to counter the dominant position on this website. I take my position because it's my position. It just happens to frequently run contrary to the dominant position. I just want to be clear that I'm not just playing devil's advocate or something equally lame.

Quote:My issue, especially in the political area, is where potential political leaders purport to "return this country to it's Christian roots" and propose establishing law and policy based on Christian doctrine. That inflame crowds to stop amoral atheistic behavior that isn't consistent with the bible, etc. This happens everyday at political rallies for a host of GOP presidential candidates.

Here's the issue.

I realised something important the other day. Having different and even diametrically opposed groups living together in the same country is the ultimate ramification of freedom of religion. You can either have everyone agree or have freedom. You can't have both. These disagreements are not a problem of the system, they're a feature. Your forefathers fought and died for this freedom (the patriotic slogan goes).

Quote:That to me is a form of persecution - being told you do not qualify as a full participant in the American political process by a major candidate attempting to be the leader of the country! If he were to be elected (or his ilk), you can bet it would go further than the irritant it currently is.

I disagree. It's being forced to listen to a douchebag. If he was elected and legislated that all students be summarily expelled if they don't pray at the start of the school day, that would be persecution.

Hey, Kempy.

I'm sorry you feel that way. I just think that it's important. If someone asked, "How do men feel about the fact that a million men went sterile," and what had actually happened was that a million men experienced a 20-30% drop in sperm count, well, that's relevant to the question. It doesn't mean that nothing happened and that there isn't something to be taken very seriously, but it does mean that we have a responsibility to be accurate.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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23-12-2011, 04:04 AM
RE: Persecution?
great answer ghost, that explained a lot thank you. I hope you dont think i was to hung up on people defining words i was just really curious to find out peoples personell experinces and youve answered that perfectly.
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23-12-2011, 10:36 AM
RE: Persecution?
(23-12-2011 04:04 AM)Kempy Wrote:  great answer ghost, that explained a lot thank you. I hope you dont think i was to hung up on people defining words i was just really curious to find out peoples personell experinces and youve answered that perfectly.

Kempy you did well. Ghost makes excellent points about being accurate, but it doesn't detract from the intent of your question. And I think in the midst of the debate about what "Is" is, you still got a glimpse of how American Atheists feel about being atheist in a so-called Christian Nation.

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23-12-2011, 04:44 PM
RE: Persecution?
(22-12-2011 01:00 AM)Kempy Wrote:  I'm an Australian and im new to this site.
As an atheist in a secular country its very easy to be open about how i feel about religion (even towards the religous). I've seen some videos on Youtube and videos from the thinking atheist showing how people are persecuted, threatened and ostracised for being an atheist. Are these videos an accurate reflection of how atheists are treated in America or is it not that common. I'm really interested to hear what people have to say. Thankyou!

Welcome, Kempy, from a fellow Aussie!

As you say, being an atheist here is not an issue, especially when our Premier (like President) is an atheist, AND a female! It certainly helps.

Our neighbours in New Zealand are even better off than here in Australia, with a huge percentage of non-believers/atheists, but then they are a much less Catholic country than Australia.

I have seen so much hate thrown at atheists from various US Web sites, but hopefully it's a minority and most Americans wouldn't wish atheists in a fiery hell!

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23-12-2011, 05:53 PM
RE: Persecution?
(23-12-2011 04:44 PM)Organon Wrote:  I have seen so much hate thrown at atheists from various US Web sites, but hopefully it's a minority and most Americans wouldn't wish atheists in a fiery hell!

at least not in person...I do wonder if they secretly don't though Wink

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