20/20 Story on the Power of Faith

Last night, ABC’s 20/20 aired an episode called “Seeing and Believing: The Power of Faith.”

I didn’t get a chance to view it, and the video doesn’t seem to be up on their site yet (***Update*** You can see the segment here), but there is an article up regarding the atheist segment of the program, focusing on the Smalkowski family.

Most of the article discusses how Nicole was harassed at school after she didn’t participate in a prayer circle following a basketball game:

Nicole said that once she told peers at school that she was an atheist, her relationship with the other kids changed. “You know they would call me devil worshipper. I’d walk down the halls, people would laugh at me. They would look at me really weird and stare me down.”

Then, according to Nicole, the teachers also began harassing her, one going as far as to say, “This is a Christian country, and if you don’t like it, get out.”

She was kicked off the team. Later on, school administrators said this happened because Nicole had “stolen another student’s sneakers,” an unfounded claim. A year later, when she was let back on the team (and stood outside the prayer circle again), she was immediately kicked off again. This time, apparently, because she “was accused of threatening to kill a team member,” another unfounded claim.

Margaret Downey, president of Atheist Alliance International, is also quoted in the story. She refers to the Anti-Discrimination Support Network, a collection of stories of people who are discriminated against simply because of their lack of belief:

“We get hundreds of narratives throughout the year, and they range from everything from murder to knifings and beatings and rapes, to just community shunning, people losing jobs, people losing family members, all for the sake of staying principled and nonhypocritical when it comes to their philosophy in life.”

For some reason, ABC manages to screw up the names of both atheist organizations they name. Atheist Alliance International gets an extra “s” at the end of the first word. And American Atheists is referred to as “American Atheist International.”

There is a “webcast” about atheists that you can watch on the ABC news website. I don’t know if any of this aired on 20/20, but it’s not too bad. Lots of Dawkins. You can see the video by going here, going to the video screen on the right side of the page, and searching for “the Non-Believers.”


[tags]atheist, atheism, 20/20, Seeing and Believing: The Power of Faith, Chuck Smalkowski, Nicole Smalkowski, prayer, Christian, devil, Margaret Downey, Atheist Alliance International, Anti-Discrimination Support Network, American Atheists[/tags]

  • http://everydayatheism.wordpress.com Everyday Atheist

    The video segment that had the atheist girl and Dawkins is posted at Onegoodmove if you want to see what made it on the air.

  • Karen

    Whoa … that made my blood boil. How dare those small-minded, ignorant jerks take a dream away from a sweet, smart, athletic girl like that?!

    That’s just criminal, and it shouldn’t be happening anywhere, let alone the supposedly “free” U.S. Damn. :-(

    Kudos to 20/20 for at least including the atheist perspective in their report, that’s progress right there.

  • http://emergingpensees.blogspot.com/ Mike C

    I’m with Karen, this kind of thing really makes me mad. This is injustice plain and simple, and one more reason why the separation of church and state is so important.

    Thanks for bringing it to our attention Hemant.

  • Craig O.

    Stossel: You could have just bowed your head and keep silent.

    Why is it that whenever something like this happens, someone recommends hypocracy as a solution?

  • http://groundedinreality.blogspot.com Bruce

    Why is it that whenever something like this happens, someone recommends hypocracy as a solution?

    Because hypocrisy is second nature to most Christians. Sorry, had to be said.

  • dan

    That is very strange, it is exactly the opposite of that here in Canada. Prayer circle?…is this at a Christian school? because the whole story would make much more sense to me if that were true. I think it just goes to show you that all people are naturally utterly selfish and unaccepting, whether it’s confused christian’s acting like that to an atheist or atheists/agnostics doing the same to christians.

  • Cassie

    Why is it that whenever something like this happens, someone recommends hypocracy as a solution?

    “Because hypocrisy is second nature to most Christians. Sorry, had to be said. ”

    May i correct that? Hyocrisy is second nature to all humans. Because christans are humans. It is human nature.

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