Given that I write about American atheism all the time, it’s always interesting to read how other publications from outside the country cover the same topic. So I’m grateful that The Telegraph (UK) shined a spotlight on atheists in one Virginia town and the difficulties of being non-religious in a religious environment no matter how the demographics are shifting:
… despite the softening approach of the younger generation towards religion, in this fiercely Bible-minded corner of Virginia, many atheists and agnostics still feel they must live in the shadows.
In two days of interviews at least half of the avowed non-believers declined to be named in the Telegraph, citing fears they would be ostracised by friends, family, churches and even their employers.
They even included a video report:
Very powerful and very appreciated.
The only complaint I have with the reporting is more of a quibble. Check out American-based reporter Peter Foster‘s passage here:
The difficulty of speaking openly about non-belief is reflected in wider American society. While atheism is more often expressed than it used to be — thanks partly to prominent atheists like Brad Pitt, the actor, and Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook — there is still only one declared non-believer among 535 members of the US Congress.
Well… Pitt and Zuckerberg may be atheists, but I hardly think the rise in atheism can be attributed to either of them. Other celebrities, maybe, but not those two. And while Rep. Pete Stark used to be a “declared non-believer,” he was voted out of office in 2012, leaving Congress with no open atheists.