Oklahoma Newspaper Features Atheists in the Bible Belt

The cover story of this week’s Oklahoma Gazette is all about how atheists are coming out in the Bible Belt and it features our friends Kai Tancredi, Red McCall, and Wolf-Blitzer-embarrasser Rebecca Vitsmun:

Hostility between theists and atheists is not uncommon. After Vitsmun’s interview, some in the religious community suggested that there had been a dearth of effort among nonbelievers in the tornado recovery.

Vitsmun disputes that notion. “I don’t believe there was a difference in the amount of work put forth,” she said. “Atheists are just beginning to develop the type of organized systems theists already have in place.”

Despite a lack of national coordinated relief efforts, said Vitsmun, local groups such as Oklahoma Atheists and FreeOK stepped in to help her family and others impacted by the deadly storms. Atheists came from around all the country to volunteer, she said.

The difference, Vitsmun said, was best summed up by Kai Tancredi, a FreeOK member who noted, “It’s not that humanists are absent in the relief effort; it’s that they aren’t all wearing matching T-shirts.”

Take that, Joe Klein.

It’s really fantastic coverage for atheists who live in a state where we haven’t always been welcome, but when you shine a spotlight on kind, amazing atheists, as this article did, it makes a difference. It lets closeted atheists know that there’s a community out there for them if they choose to join it.

(Thanks to Andrew for the link!)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Gus Snarp

    Funny how you never see Joe Klein actually doing journalism about atheists before spouting off about us.

  • DougI

    Maybe someone should mail a copy of the article to Joel Klein. He may be too busy not doing journalism to read it though.

  • Rain

    Wolf-Blitzer-embarrasser

    Wolf Blitzer embarrassed her more than she embarrassed Wolf Blitzer. He’s used to the spotlight, as I’m sure the “Blitzer buffs” will tell you. Joe Klien should be ashamed of himself for whole embarrassing episode.

  • flyb

    What is amaeicana?

    Edit: Ok, it’s apparently a huge typo. Who misses something like that? It’s also referring to the wrong page. The “Americana” story is on page 48, not 46. Meh.

  • http://skepticink.com/dangeroustalk Dangerous Talk

    Wolfe Blitzer was his own embarrasser.

  • Mick

    “Oklahoma Gazette – free every Wednesday”

    “Oklahoma Gazette prints and distributes 53,500 papers every Wednesday in and around Central Oklahoma, and with more than 2.5 readers per copy, Gazette has 134,060 weekly readers.”
    http://www.okgazette.com/oklahoma/flex-222-about-us.html

    If it’s anything like the freebie in my hometown, the number of readers is practically nil. For example: a pile of twenty are delivered to my apartment block every week and there they sit on the doorstep until garbage collection night when the whole lot are dumped into one of the bins.

    Using the Oklahoma Gazette method, those 20 un-read copies represent fifty readers!

    • Nate Frein

      And if it’s like the City Paper in Baltimore, it does get widely distributed and read. It goes out on Wednesday and by Friday it’s damned hard to find a copy.

      I suspect it’s closer to the City Paper ;3

    • IDP

      There’s a free “healthy living” paper like that here, it gets left unread at the college I went to, but old people seem to LOVE it. Don’t know if it’s cause it’s free or because old people are more inclined to want to read stuff in a paper that young people on the internet. Given the content of this issue, at least there’s that?

      • A3Kr0n

        Our freebie has a lot of local community stuff in it. It’s really not too bad to read, but I’ve only used it to start my wood burner in the Winter. It’s got thicker paper than normal so it burns good.

  • Bill Santagata

    Well that cover certainly isn’t dramatic, what with ATHEIST written in all capital letters, in red letters against a black banner.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Yeah, switch in, say, yellow and blue for the colors and you get a completely different theme. Which is to say a neutral one instead of a negative one.

    • Gus Snarp

      There’s also the fact that it covers the eyes. Which sends a straight up message that atheists are ashamed, or ought to be, and want to hide their identities (not to say that there aren’t plenty of cases where atheists want to keep that quiet for reasons other than shame), and the eyes are an important part of the smile. It’s how we tell a “real” smile from a “fake” smile, so it could easily make people see the smile as fake.

  • Tommy Boyett

    I’m from Moore, Oklahoma and still live here. I’ve gained a lot of respect for the Gazette’s work the past few years and their local coverage, and this story just makes me even more proud of them.


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