Comedian W. Kamau Bell: ‘Atheism is Like the Highest Level of White Privilege’

On a recent episode of Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell, the host moderated a debate on God’s existence between atheist comedian Jamie Kilstein and Christian John Fugelsang:

Bell set the tone right up front: “I kind of feel like I’m in the middle of this debate because I do believe in God… I feel like, as a black guy, I can’t not believe in God… I’d wake up in the morning, ‘I’m black and there’s no God? I’m going back to sleep.’”

And later: “Atheism is like the highest level of white privilege. It’s like having a black belt in white privilege.” A great line, considering all the reasons African-Americans could have for not believing in God.

Fugelsang was likable enough, though one of his lines about how there can be “atheist fundamentalists” went unchallenged (at least in the editing room). All of them seemed to agree, without elaboration in the final cut, that Richard Dawkins was Islamophobic.

Still, not a bad conversation about religion for a late-night talk show — outside of “Real Time with Bill Maher,” anyway.

(via Christian Post)

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.

  • Kristin

    I don’t have any idea what that is supposed to mean. I have a “black belt in white privilege?”

    • Librepensadora

      It’s like how W got to be president because his dad was and still is one of the most powerful and respected atheists in America.
      (No, I don’t need a history lesson. I am using sarcasm–a word which here means “saying something which is not true when you mean exactly the opposite” to make a point.)

      • Kristin

        So, are you saying that it doesn’t make any sense to you either? Or do you understand his point, but are making fun of it? If so, could you help me and tell me what the hell he is trying to say?

    • Kristin

      Why did somebody give me a down vote because I don’t understand something and ask for help to understand it? I really don’t have the slightest clue what this is supposed to mean. I could use some help with what he is trying to say, because it makes absolutely no sense to me.

      • C.J. O’Brien

        Probably because claiming not to understand what is meant when a person of color relates their experience in terms of lacking privilege that white people enjoy is an entry on the racist bingo card.
        What is it you’re having trouble with? The concept of white privilege? The joking reference to a black belt as a marker for high achievement in some pursuit?

        • Kristin

          Of course I understand the concept of white privilege. What I don’t understand is what his fucking argument is–I don’t understand the logic at all. You’re telling me, because I don’t understand his fucking argument, and because I then ask people to help me understand what the fuck he’s trying to say (instead of just condemning him as a self-loathing racist like people at the top of this conversation who are getting a bunch of upvotes) that somehow makes *me* a fucking racist?

          What the fuck is so fucking wrong about saying that you don’t understand what someone is trying to say and asking for some fucking help? His argument is not self-evident to me. Maybe I’m just incredibly dumb because I don’t understand his argument, but it doesn’t make me a fucking racist.

          From people’s comments at this point, it seems there are many different theories of what his argument is, it doesn’t seem that anybody else on here has a clear idea of what he is trying to say either. I’m trying to understand his argument *before* I critique it–is that so fucking wrong?

          • C.J. O’Brien

            I’m not saying poor, precious little *you* is a fucking racist. That would require filling up a whole fucking line on the card. So far it’s just one fucking square.

          • Kengi

            Read what CJ said again. Apparently you don’t understand white privilege. Does that make you racist? It probably does make things you do and say racist.

            Besides, you didn’t really make it clear with your first post that you were looking to actually learn anything. It just appeared you were looking to mock the idea.

    • Ton_Chrysoprase

      I’d suspect correlation/causation fallacy. It’s not that atheism causes people to be better off but better off people tend to be atheist (possibly because they can resist peer pressure better or have more time to question things).

      One could of course also speculate that religiosity is at odds with education and education by and large causes income to rise. But I wouldn’t call that privilege, more like self-sabotage.

    • Kengi

      What it means is that white people, on average, have so much privilege compared to people of color they can, on average, have little difficulty outing themselves as an atheist. He’s pointing out that, despite the massive negative baggage that comes with being an open atheist, white people have so much social privilege they can get away with it most of the time with few repercussions.

      • Kodie

        Probably not as much as he thinks? But I also think it is referring to having so much privilege as to actually consider that there is no god. I think that correlates to higher education, income, and class strata that white people (seem to) automatically enjoy as a perk of being white that he sees as affording us the luxury to even think it over. I don’t think he really meant that we could out ourselves so much as actually conceive of there being no god, actually coming to that conclusion, that as he sees it, black people can’t afford to do.

        As I can relate to it in any way I can, my grandparents came through the Great Depression, children of immigrants etc., and when I ask them questions about stuff that’s interesting to me, I get answers like “we never thought about that stuff, we were working too hard just to eat.” At the cost of their labor, I live a relatively luxurious life, even if it doesn’t always feel that way to me. I think there are some people who feel as if it’s just a luxury to think about it, and so don’t. Just wake up and assume there is a god, like you’ve been told. Questioning authority is a luxury many people can’t afford. And many people live struggling, so that’s all they are looking forward to in life is to die and go to heaven.

        That’s actually one of the reasons I hate religion, and why so many people love it – you can’t tear these people’s only hope from them, or whatever, because if they one day realize there is no afterlife, you can’t use them like a tool. They will suddenly realize there is no reward, and get their pride back.

        • getz

          That’s one of the things, really. It’s argued that they just don’t have the time or ability to think of things like the existence of gods because they’re too busy just trying to live, but that’s simply not true. Even in those lifestyles, extreme efforts are put into making sure religious indoctrination takes places and regular religious observation occurs. If people stray from that path, they’re more than capable of applying enough social pressure to make sure those people regret it.

          It’s not that they don’t have time for that stuff. It’s that the time is instead wasted on religion. And anyone in that environment who thinks “something’s up” will certainly question it. At that point, it’s not a lack of concern that keeps them “religious”, it’s the demand that they pretend like nothing is wrong with religion. Something that will still be asked of them regardless of their lifestyle. Indeed, for all of the affluent atheists out there speaking out against religion, there are just as many going out of their way to tell them to knock it off. We’re also looking at an environment like the US where less than 3% of the population will even call themselves atheists, and the amount who will say they aren’t theists isn’t much larger. Bell’s experience isn’t a black one, it’s an American one. But racial politics build into the country’s social environment means that it’s easy for him(or others) to cut himself off from the millions of non blacks who share similar experiences, just like it’s easy to pretend like white atheists are exercising their privilege to join an extremely small group maligned by society in general, likely after separating from surrounding efforts to indoctrinate them.

          If there are privileged people in this context, it’s the ones with non religious parents, in non religious environments. That’s not a norm anywhere in the US. “White privilege” is the wrong focus of a discussion if we’re wondering why 4% of a group is able to do something instead of 1% or 2%.

      • waybeyondsoccermom

        There is a similar thought regarding the choice of being vegetarian. Try being vegetarian in extreme poverty, especially outside the US. Many impoverished people will mock you, if you refuse to eat a meal with them, because it may contain meat. When feeding your family every day is a challenge, meeting someone who is vegetarian appears absurd. A lot of vegetarians, when travelling or working in third word communities, have to put their vegetarian aside.

        • Anat

          Actually in many places meat is expensive and poor people eat less of it. I remember in Israel some charity trying to raise attention to its cause by talking about people who don’t even eat meat on Shabbat.

          (And on a completely different scale, during out first year as vegetarians our food budget shrank. But after that we started buying fancier vegetables, joined a CSA and made up for much of the difference.)

          • waybeyondsoccermom

            Anat, I agree with you. In places where meat is rare, when it is actually served, to turn it down because you are a vegetarian is considered unthinkable, let alone, rude.

        • AxeGrrl

          Great point. I’m generally vegetarian (working towards veganism), but realize that my ability to be one rests entirely on how privileged my life is, living where I do, and having the luxury of choice that I do.

    • Dez

      Yea I didn’t get it either.

  • The Other Weirdo

    That’s actually one of the most self-loathing, racist remarks I’ve heard in a long time. The idea behind it is that the poor blacks can’t do nothing without no god, only whites can afford to give up their faith. Maybe they should have invited some of those black atheists Hemant has publicized this year.

    • asonge

      Except that’s not how this kind of thing works. Religious belief (and general superstitions) are linked to [edit: economic] uncertainty and high income inequality (it’s likely the income inequality causes it, though there are likely feedback mechanisms). Things have to be going pretty right for you to be able to psychologically afford to have an existential challenge to your identity like losing your religion. For some people, this isn’t a problem, but for folk like me…if I were worse off, I would’ve never considered leaving my religion.

      • Bitter Lizard

        Yes, religiosity correlates with existential insecurity above all else. The fact that black people lean more religious doesn’t show us that there’s anything different about black people, it shows us that there’s nothing different about them, in that they react to their set of circumstances the same way any other group of people who had a similar background of marginalization would. If black people had equity in education, employment opportunity, incarceration and so on, their religiosity levels would go down like they do with any population.

        Part of the nice thing about being an atheist and understanding religion’s correlation with all forms of misery in all populations is that you realize that anybody who’s actively working to make the world a better place for people is working against religion, whether they realize it or not.

        • asonge

          Exactly what I meant to say, but better.

        • AxeGrrl

          Part of the nice thing about being an atheist and understanding religion’s correlation with all forms of misery in all populations is that you realize that anybody who’s actively working to make the world a better place for people is working against religion, whether they realize it or not.

          Nicely articulated :)

      • Houndentenor

        Except that the religion it exploited by people to keep the poor in their place. If they realize that this life is all there is, they won’t expect being treated like shit in this life. Instead they are promised reward in some life after this one. Who does that benefit? It sure as hell doesn’t benefit poor people.

    • Miss_Beara

      I heard well off white Christians use that “i can’t do anything and I am worthless without god” bit. I don’t understand how anyone, no matter the skin color or the economic situation, can believe that about themselves.

  • Florian

    Biggest surprise is that Fogelsang is a Jesus believer.

    • Tainda

      You know his mom was a nun and his dad a monk? Former of course but still…

      I just read that and was like, WTF?

      • LesterBallard

        Yeah, that’s funny. Fuck celibacy.

    • Miss_Beara

      Yeah. When I read that I thought it was a misprint.

  • tyler

    the worst thing is that there’s actually a grain of truth in there. idek if he was actually getting at this (haven’t watched the video yet, but judging by the negative comments so far i’m guessing this is mostly incidental) but christianity is a big deal in many black communities, with even otherwise secular areas sometimes approaching bible belt levels of religiosity. what’s more, support networks for black atheists and people of color in general are practically nonexistent. white atheists have it rough no doubt, but PoC atheists get a double dose of discrimination and precious little support from their community and peers.

    • Greg T Reich

      Can I tell you a secret? Atheists in predominantly white communities don’t get any support from their community and peers. How many brick-and-mortar locations do you see where atheists can meet? If you think white Christians are more supportive of atheists, watch the documentary, “Separation on State Street”, about a Caro, Michigan resident who faced real discrimination from her community. I can come up with tons more examples, but that was one where I was personally involved with the resolution.

      • tyler

        …? when did i say white atheists don’t face discrimination exactly…?

        i believe i specifically said black atheists get a double dose of discrimination, which implies that white atheists receive at least a single dose. this was not explicitly stated as the article and comment are both focused specifically on black atheists, which makes your implication that i was saying otherwise either highly disingenuous or telling of a lack of reading comprehension skills.

        you may want to do more research before taking such a strong position. the whole oppression olympics thing you have going on is incredibly off-putting.

        • getz

          They didn’t say you argued white atheists don’t face discrimination. They addressed this claim:

          ” what’s more, support networks for black atheists and people of color in general are practically nonexistent.”

          with this:

          ” Atheists in predominantly white communities don’t get any support from their community and peers. If you think white Christians are more supportive of atheists…”

          ie; questioning the notion of a comparative “double dose.”

          If it’s a matter of research and you’re the one who made the comparison, you bring out the research that supports your claim. Whatever studies you have to reference on atheists of any kind in any particular communities, available support networks or anything else would be great.

  • Guest

    Not sure what he meant by that, but maybe he was getting at what Bill Maher was saying in Religulous about understanding why people in prison or in foxholes might believe in God because things are so awful it is nice to think that there is some perfect afterlife to look forward to.

    I’ve thought about this a lot since then and wondered whether atheism is reflective of economic or some other kind of privilege. Someone more clever than me should write a book about it so that I don’t have to leave pointless comments like this one :)

    • Kristin

      So maybe he is saying that white privilege gives white people more what?-freedom to be athiests? What about poor, disabled, marginalized white people? Do we have no choice but to believe in God because of (this dudes reasons that I don’t understand) or is this about a particular marginaliation that only blacks feel and so “must” be religious? Whatever his actual argument is, it *seems* wrong, but since I can’t actually figure out what he’s trying to argue, I don’t know how to even engage with the argument.

      • Dirty_Nerdy

        Poor and disabled white people still have white privilege, they are just lacking in economic and able-bodied privilege. That’s what the concept of intersectionality is all about actually.

        • Kristin

          So is argument isn’t something like, “marginalized people with sucky lives” have no choice but to be religious, but more “Black people in particular” have no choice but to be religious because of (reasons that I don’t understand.) How does that make any sense?

          Maybe the argument is more that if you live in a community of fundamentalists, it is really hard to be an athiest? That argument finally makes some sense to me. But he isn’t saying that, is he? He is saying that *something unique to being black* makes it impossible to be an athiest. I’m just trying to understand what that *something unique* is because I don’t know what it is. (I was guessing it might be poverty, not being able to hold down a job, being marginalized, living amongst fundamentalist, etc., except those factors aren’t unique to being black people.)

          • C.J. O’Brien

            You understand Kamau is a comedian, right? That he’s not making a straight-faced argument but engaging in hyperbole for effect? I have no doubt he believes what he’s saying, but it’s rather the nature of the format he’s working that provocative is preferred to nuanced.
            By way of actually remedying your confusion: Think of the famous line from MLK (though not original to him) “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice”. Oppressed people have a great need to believe this. Failing to believe this is tantamount to giving up in despair, or, as Kamau puts it, not getting out of bed and facing an oppressive world. God, in marginalized communities, often acts as a symbol of the potential for the world to get better. Faith in that “bending toward justice” in the face of so much evidence in one’s daily life of the opposite, is going to be more difficult for one who feels oppression and discrimination first-hand.
            Of course oppression, discrimination, economic inequality, are not unique to black communities. Why is that so important?

          • Dirty_Nerdy

            That *something unique* is pretty obviously the fact that they’re black in a society that shits all over black people. How is it not obvious that some may not want to take on another label/identity that society will shit on? And how is it not obvious that white people more often than not can afford to lose religious privilege since they get to keep all the awesome white privilege?

            • Kodie

              Wouldn’t the potential to be rejected by just about the entire black community play a big role? I might be way wrong here, but I think being Christian plays a big part in a black American identity to the extent that one would rather hold ties to that identity than be shunned completely out of a core difference with a major aspect of that community. I mean, they are still black, still disenfranchised or marginalized in society, and they cannot go back to their group where they are safe and loved and understood without having to explain themselves. It is not just about skin color, just like we say atheism is “just a disbelief in god or gods and nothing more or less,” that’s not exactly true. A person is not just labels.

        • baal

          “just” (meaning only)

          i hate that word
          The ideas it’s used to express aren’t much better.

          • Dirty_Nerdy

            ok, then we can rewrite that sentence as “they are lacking in economic and able-bodied privilege.”

            And sometimes I read “just” as meaning “simply” as well.

      • Kengi

        You really don’t seem to understand white privilege despite claiming otherwise.

        Privilege means that, all other factors being equal, one group is disadvantaged compared to other (privileged) groups. When you are part of a socially marginalized group, the last thing you want to do is add to that marginalization.

        • UWIR

          “You really don’t seem to understand white privilege despite claiming otherwise.”

          That’s because it isn’t a consistent concept. Like here, you’re claiming that it’s a property of a group, while before you were claiming that it’s something that individuals have. Privilege means that white people have more money, except when they don’t. What does “all other factors being equal” mean? If everything else is equal, then they’re equal. How can one group be disadvantaged compared to another group, if they’re equal in all ways except race? There’s no clear, unambiguous, universal meaning of the term “privilege”. And to top it off, if anyone questions it, or expresses any sort of confusion, they’re told that a sign they’re racist.

          • Kengi

            Are you really that ignorant, or are you being purposely obtuse to hide your racism?

            When talking about a shared trait, we must refer to groups of people. When talking about individuals, they each can have, or lack, privilege.

            Context matters when reading.

            All other factors being equal means just that. When the only significant difference between individuals is a trait that causes them to be treated differently by others, that is inequality because of privilege.

            When a white man goes to a job interview in NYC he’s concerned about traffic so he won’t be late. When a POC goes to a job interview, in addition to traffic he has to worry about being stopped and frisked along the way. He can’t coll his heels hanging out in front of the building if he’s early, or he’ll also likely be detained.

            That’s a disadvantage a black person has, even if all other factors were equal other than race, and it’s something he has to think about all the time in nearly everything he does.

            The same applies to different groups of people as well, and individuals within and outside of those groups have differing levels of such privilege. There are even conflicting levels of privilege, such as being white woman. You are privileged by being white, but then at a disadvantage for being a woman. And privilege will vary by circumstance as well.

            Don’t blame others because you can’t understand basic social interactions.

            • UWIR

              “Are you really that ignorant, or are you being purposely obtuse to hide your racism?”

              I’m really getting tired of people who think that it’s acceptable to just start throwing out accusations of racism the moment anyone disagrees with them. There are basic standards of decency is civil discussion. If you really cared about fighting racism, you wouldn’t go around pissing off potential allies. It’s quite clear that people like you are not motivated by social justice, but by a holier-than-thou attitude that gets off on insulting others.

              “When talking about a shared trait, we must refer to groups of people.”

              What utter nonsense. There is a world of difference between people in a group sharing a trait, and the group having that trait. Black people have a lower average IQ than white people. That’s a trait held by the group as a whole. Having lower IQs is not a trait shared by all black people, it’s only a property of the group “black people”. If I were to equivocate between the fact that black people on average have a lower IQ and claiming that individual black people have lower IQs, I’m sure you’d waste no time calling me racist. And yet people like you don’t see any problem engaging in the same sort of equivocation when it suits you.

              “Don’t blame others because you can’t understand basic social interactions.”

              We aren’t discussing social interactions, we’re discussing a label for those interactions. Declaring that people “can’t understand basic social interactions” simply because they don’t agree with you is being an arrogant prick.

              • Kengi

                Ah yes, you are a racist asshole. Is that you JT? Come on JT, we know you are racist from your posts on this site, you don’t have to hide behind sock puppets. Your reputation has already been ruined.

                Yes, there are multiple aspects of shared traits and groups. That doesn’t mean I can’t talk about group traits and individual traits both in regard to privilege. One doesn’t deny the existence of the other, it simply means social interactions are complex.

                Now go away you racist asshole and learn something about privilege instead of complaining about people pointing out your racism.

                • UWIR

                  “That doesn’t mean I can’t talk about group traits and individual traits both in regard to privilege.”
                  Yes, you can talk about two different things with the same word, but then you can’t claim that that word has a clear meaning, which was my point. And if your definition of the word comprises two different things, you should say so, rather than giving only one in your definition, and then throwing a temper tantrum and accusing people being racist asshole sock puppets when they point out the problem with your definition. You clearly have serious mental issues that preclude you from discussing the issue rationally.

                • Kengi

                  They aren’t two different definitions of privilege. They are two aspects of the same thing which has a clear meaning to non-racist assholes, which was my point.

                  You clearly have racial issues which preclude you from discussing this issue rationally. You prefer to pretend that privilege isn’t clear so you can live your privileged life and feel good about yourself pretending you aren’t racist.

                  If you aren’t JT Eberhard you are doing a seriously good impression of him. Why don’t you go hang out on the Stormfront site. You will feel much more at home there. They also pretend they aren’t racist while claiming social privilege doesn’t really exist.

                • UWIR

                  “You clearly have racial issues which preclude you from discussing this issue rationally.”
                  I’m not the one who’s refusing to discuss this issue rationally. Your “You don’t accept everything I say about privilege without question because you don’t want to admit that you’re racist” is no more convincing than “You don’t accept everything I say about God without question because you don’t want to admit that you’re a sinner.” If you can’t handle anyone disagreeing with you without throwing a temper tantrum and calling them names, that sends a rather clear message as to the validity of your position.

                • Dirty_Nerdy

                  Shorter UWIR: OMG, words in the English language are sometimes ambiguous and have more than one meaning!!

                • UWIR

                  Shorter Kengi: OMG. you claimed that “privilege” is an ambiguous term! Racist!

  • Art_Vandelay

    If you want to be an atheist that’s fine but just don’t be a dick.

    Hey, thanks Fugelsang. We’re glad we have your approval for something that we have absolutely no choice in whatsoever.

    Bell too, being an activist should probably understand that my atheism is as voluntary as his skin color.

  • LesterBallard

    What is wrong with having a strong dislike or fear of Islam, or Christianity or any other religion?

    • kaileyverse

      I can understand not agreeing with, and hell, even disliking a religion, but not necessarily the adherents. I think the problem lies when you take your dislike for a component or the religion as a whole – and condemning all the people who follow it as bad people, simply because they believe something you don’t. I mean, be an atheist, don’t be a fundamentalist dick about it.

      • 3lemenope

        When a group of people in a religion use their religion to perpetrate bad and harmful acts, and then a *much larger group* of people in that same religion cover for the bad actors, make excuses for them, generally ignore the harm they cause and blame their victims, I can see starting to tar them all with a broader brush. At a certain point of singing the same song and marching in lockstep, they start to lose the ability to claim that their actions are their own and not an extension of the institution to which they belong.

      • LesterBallard

        I am a dick, but I am not a fundamentalist dick. People can believe whatever they want, as long as they keep it personal, don’t hurt or oppress anyone, keep government secular.

  • joe smith

    “as a black guy I can’t not believe in god” and then just move on. how helpful and insightful.

  • Tiffany Harding

    As a black atheist nothing sounds more pathetic to me than to hear other black people say that atheism is “for white people”.

    • Dez

      Me too. It’s like if you are black, you have to be a believer. Otherwise you aren’t really black.

  • Mankoi

    I wouldn’t necessarily say that atheist is a white privilege, but rather that, if you’re white you’re a privileged atheist. I don’t want to say it is a privilege because… well, as a white, heterosexual male, atheism is about the one place where I don’t get the majority privilege. In terms of people in general, atheism is not a privilege.

    But I am absolutely privileged as an atheist. There isn’t as much pressure to believe, most atheists in the spotlight are also white. The relative lack of discrimination and pressure is certainly a privilege. But it is a relative lack. I’d be happy to say I have atheist privileges, including how much easier it is for me to be open about my atheism, and accept it. But my ability to simply be an atheist isn’t exactly a privilege.

  • Jamie Carter

    I believe that it has little to do with social standing but with education sometimes those two can go hand n hand but not always.

  • Nick

    This was barely a real discussion. They couldn’t get into anything “serious” because it’s really more of a comedy show. All the Christian side had to do was belt out a bunch of wishy-washy, liberal Christian truisms, but the atheist had to try to drop some knowledge while at the same time keeping it upbeat.

    • waybeyondsoccermom

      I wish executive producer of the show, Chris Rock, had been involved in that discussion. Or, perhaps the discussion took place because it’s something Bell and Rock have actually discussed. Chris Rock has been quoted as saying: “if you’re a Black Christian, you have a real short memory.”

  • Greg T Reich

    I don’t get the “white privilege” thing in relation to atheism. I have never felt like I could simply be atheist without anyone questioning it, because people question it all the damned time. Maybe in other parts of the country it’s different, but not where I live.

    • Dirty_Nerdy

      Just think about how much worse it is for people who are already suffering discrimination because of their race then. So, take the amount of suffering and anxiety you get for being an “out” atheist and then multiply it by about 50, and then you’ll maybe be at the same level.

      • Kristin

        So you think his argument is that it is impossible to be an athiest because “he’s suffered discrimination because of his race?” So suffering discrimination because of your race–and the suffering and anxiety because of it–make it impossible (or maybe difficult) to be an athiest? Is that the argument?

        That actually makes some sense to me, thank you.

        • Dirty_Nerdy

          I didn’t say impossible. When the fuck did I ever say it was impossible? No. You apparently do not understand at all what I said. Read it again.

      • Greg T Reich

        No, I don’t buy it. We’re talking about separate issues.

        White privilege is a real thing. I understand that, and trust me, I know that cops treat walking and driving while black as a crime. I’ve seen it. I know “sounding black” or having a “black” name will affect your ability to get a job or rent an apartment or a home. I’ve witnessed this discrimination as well. I know I don’t have to worry about those things because I’m white, and I think that saying it sucks is a serious understatement.

        But to say atheism is “white privilege” is completely asinine. It’s getting easier to be an atheist these days, but before the Internet created an atheist community, it was difficult to come out as an atheist at all. It was a lonely road, and the Christians ganged up to try to “save your soul” constantly. I couldn’t find like-minded people easily. I tried.

        But that’s not the worst of it. When I became an activist for separation of state and church and spoke in public as an atheist who was out of the closet, I had my life and the lives of my family threatened. I’ve been lucky at work–mostly because I did not make religion or lack thereof an issue–but I did face religious discrimination for several months in the year 2000, and I know several people who have been fired from their jobs because their bosses were fundamentalist Christians who couldn’t tolerate an atheist employee.

        My ex-wife and I eloped to avoid the question of where we would be married from my parents, because I was raised not to question religion, or there would be consequences. We had witnessed my parents condemning weddings that did not have this or that tradition, as well. So we didn’t want them involved. This is nothing compared to families where parents disown their adult children because they come out as atheists.

        Madelyn Murray O’Hair had rocks thrown at her. Kids smeared dog feces on the walls in the rooms of her house after breaking in while she was away. Her son was beaten with a broom handle because he was her son.

        Atheist organizations get bomb threats when they meet.

        I don’t see where the privilege is here.

        • Dirty_Nerdy

          You are simply listing all the bad things that can happen to atheists for being atheists and then saying that we can’t look at how this discrimination *might* be worse for people of color who already suffer from other discrimination in their life. Yes, white privilege is a thing, it’s also a thing that makes it easier to be an out atheist.

  • Harley Quinn

    There are a lot of white people that are arguably privileged and still believe stupid things…look at Tom Cruise!

  • scroogleu

    Never seen either of these guys, and then I hate to observe we’ll be more likely to see more of that Christian pretty boy. This is no accident – Christian organizations go much out of their way to groom the slickest and the quickest. They are always good at making you like them, so good that you just want to agree with them, no matter how empty-headed their words. I really wish those who aren’t prepared to face them down the way Hitch-slap did would just stay home, instead of make us all look sappy!

  • Mario Strada

    Is there a way to criticize Islam that is not Islamophobic?

  • McAtheist

    Did everyone miss the fact it was a comedy show, comedy folks, not reality.
    Comedy: Noun,
    Professional entertainment consisting of jokes and satirical sketches, intended to make an audience laugh.
    A movie, play, or broadcast program intended to make an audience laugh.

    • Kodie

      So, funny jokes are never also true observations? Have you seen any comedians?

    • Itarion

      Facts can be hilarious, dude. Have you never seen the platypus?

      The best comedy is the comedy that gets you to think about things and laugh because you thought about a real thing in a new way.

  • Didgya

    Looks like W. Kamau Bell, life is rough. I’m brown and I don’t have a show so I guess he is privileged over me? (j/k) He is like Oprah, poor me, what could I possible get up in the morning for, maybe my own show and audience and nice pay check? Oh but how does he have those things. By his own merits I would guess so he can stuff his ignorant views and the whining..

  • Azrock

    This was awesome, I am a black agnostic i.e. “unicorn of gold made flesh”, but don’t knock the conversation, at least it’s being had!