The other night, a Friend and I went out with a number of her classmates– I didn’t know any of them. But I introduced myself and things were fine. When I left, a couple of the classmates asked the Friend who I was, what’s my deal, and the other typical interrogation questions all people ask about strangers. As my Friend told them about me, it came out that I was an atheist. The classmates were apparently stunned. They told my Friend to stay away from me. You know how that goes.
The Friend told me later she had no idea people could be so antagonistic toward atheists. She had read the review by Mojoey last week and said she didn’t believe his stories at first, but now, they seemed plausible to her.
This is nothing new. I like that people who get to know me before finding out about my atheism are usually taken aback, because I’m not what they had in mind when they envisioned “an atheist.”
An incredibly nice host of a Christian radio show I was on sent me an email where she talked about some responses she received after my appearance. She added:
… my mom had a mama bear type convo with an 88 year old lady in our church that voiced that she couldn’t believe that “[the host] even gave him the time of day!”
I’m not sure what the aftermath will be of the Life Today episodes, but even on the show, the hosts were anticipating some negative reactions from viewers who might be appalled that an atheist was given airtime on a Christian program.
Sometimes, the reactions can be worse, though.
His father found the book, took it from his son (censoring him from any literature clashing with his own personal beliefs), and called my cell phone number (written inside the cover) to tell me he was going to come over to my house to personally return it that night. It was already 11:00 PM. He read me my address (I assume he got it from the phonebook) and told me, “You made this too easy.” I obsessively checked every lock in my house and went to sleep with a metal baseball bat held across my chest.
He sounded a bit drunk on the phone and I assumed he wouldn’t drive across town to deliver my book in his state, so I called the school and left a message, asking to deny him a visitor’s pass to the student areas of the building. He indeed came to school, and I assume he tried to visit me but was intercepted by the principal first. Whatever occurred, he ended up talking to my principal and demanded that I be punished for “handing out literature” and attempting to convert his already-Atheist son to Atheism.
There are a number of stories of hate crimes against atheists. In one case, a man was killed by a Christian (and Eagle Scout) directly because of his non-belief. There are lesser forms of violence, too, like when a student in Canada was recently beaten up because of his atheism.
There’s a list of cases (PDF) of discrimination against atheists, and it isn’t a short one. It’s also incomplete since many of these crimes go unreported.
It’s just sad that some people are so insecure about their beliefs that they can’t stand anyone they know being exposed to different ways of thinking. Or it’s scary that people can be so deluded, they really think the “evil atheists” must be punished and they will take care of it themselves. I mean, if God is supposed to be the Ultimate Judge anyway, one would think we don’t need humans taking over God’s role on Earth.
(via Atheist Revolution)
[tags]atheist, atheism, Unorthodox Atheism, The God Delusion, Christian, Eagle Scout, Canada, Justin Trottier, Anti Discrimination Support Network, Atheist Revolution, Life Today[/tags]