But now there's a new cause for celebration! A new Gallup poll shows that gays have achieved another huge victory: they're far more popular than atheists! When one oppressed minority gains ground on another, isn't that cause for celebration?
No, I'm just kidding (in case anyone misses the humor). I'm really pleased that America is slowly overcoming the religion-inspired discrimination and hatred against the LGBT community. But it's rather alarming that atheists are still so widely reviled. It's a testament to the power of religious discrimination that the Christian dogma machine has managed to instill such fear and loathing of America's most law-abiding group.
For your amusement, here is the Gallup breakdown of the most-reviled minorities in America. We atheists take the prize at the bottom of the heap:
|Group||Wouldn't vote for|
|Gay or lesbian||32%|
So why is the second-largest "faith" group in America so reviled? Why is the most law-abiding minority in America deemed unfit for public office?
The problem is that atheists continue to hide in plain sight. Most minorities can be "outed" by their skin color, worship practices, or the fact that they live with someone of the same sex. But atheists are everywhere and nobody knows it. Most atheists deliberately hide their atheism, because admitting it leads to nothing good and triggers the very discrimination revealed by the Gallup poll.
The result is that we remain the most reviled group in America, and it's going to stay that way as long as we continue to hide. I know that there are many of my fellow atheists who have genuine reasons to hide. The discrimination is real. Not everyone can be a Dr. King, Rosa Parks or Harvey Milk.
But more of us need to speak out. As more and more of us come out of the closet with our atheism, it will be harder for ordinary Americans to keep their misconceptions. Hatred and revulsion of atheism are based on ignorance and misinformation that's perpetrated by outdated religious dogma. When Christians, Jews and Muslims discover that their friends and neighbors, people whom they've known and respected for years, are atheists, it will be hard for them to remain biased.
If you're an atheist and you want to stay in a world where 49% of Americans would bar you from public office, then keep your atheism to yourself. But if you want to make a difference, then consider being open and honest about your beliefs. It will make a difference.