Setting Us Straight

Last month, Dan Neil of the LA Times wrote an article proclaiming that atheism was becoming increasingly popular. He dubbed it “Atheist Chic.”

Unfortunately, part of the article included the following statement:

Despite the recent gains among free thinkers, atheism is still hugely unpopular. There are no atheists in foxholes or in Congress…

I normally don’t refer much to letters-to-the-editor. but Fred Edwords (of the American Humanist Association) had a short, straightforward response to Neil in today’s LA Times:

I appreciated Dan Neil’s column “Atheist Chic” (800 Words, Dec. 17). So I only offer one small critique. He wrote, “There are no atheists in foxholes or in Congress.” We know why there aren’t any in Congress: It’s difficult for atheists, or even agnostics, to get elected to most public offices.

But as for those foxholes, it simply ain’t so. Atheists have had foxhole duty in nearly every war, though they’ve usually been in the closet at the same time.

It would’ve been better to have that correction made by Dan Neil in his article, but it is good to have people catching the mistakes and making the corrections, even if it is after the fact.

Has anyone else here written a published letter-to-the-editor?

Did you get any response from other readers?

[tags]Dan Neil, LA Times, atheism, atheist, atheist chic, no atheists in foxholes, Congress, Fred Edwords, American Humanist Association[/tags]

  • Pedro Timóteo

    Dawkins suggests that, since 10% of Americans are atheists or agnostics, at least 10% of Congress, should, statistically, not believe in God. That makes about 50 atheist / agnostic congressmen.

    Which means they’re lying to get elected, of course…

  • Susan

    Probabilistically, that would only be the case if atheism and Congress-member-ness were completely independent. Since it clearly isn’t (people known to be atheists have a strong likelihood of NOT being elected to Congress), that argument is invalid.

    (Er, sorry. You’ve heard of the Grammar Nazi; well I’m the Math Nazi and I just couldn’t let it pass.)

  • valhar2000

    Unless, as Dawkins and others point out, they are lying about it. Many people lie about their atheism to avoid being ostracized, and if one intends to run for office this becomes especially urgent.

  • txatheist

    I have gotten about a dozen letters printed in the Austin American Statesman but now am banned because I refuse to give out my real last name for print. (not until my son is out of the house and then I will). I always provided a hotmail account though and it was published. Only a couple of times I got a response and it was from a teacher in the Leander school district. He’s a piece of work with the church state separation issue and creationism. However LISD did get an excellent rating by TFN(Texas freedom network) overall so he of little factor.

    There is a small paper out of Cedar Park, TX. The hill country news and there was a reporter about 3 years ago that constantly wrote erroneous stuff on atheism/xianity and evolution. I wrote it and the responses to the paper were great. The editor even let one of my long rebuttals go to “editorial of the week” and got a special spot to receive responses. There were some and I was grateful for the spot. That went on for a few months until the original opinion guy moved to Oregon. However, right before he left I received a phone call at 2 am and his name came up on caller ID. I called him back the next day and left a polite message saying one of his kids was acting up and had called my house at 2 am and hung up.