A few weeks ago, the mayor of La Vista, Nebraska, Doug Kindig, earned his fifteen minutes of infamy with secular folks when he had this to say about the Omaha Atheists‘ concerns over a “Faith & Freedom Day”:
Take me to fucking court because I don’t care. … Minorities are not going to run my city.
Apparently, things are beginning to smooth over, but it opened an opportunity for the community to learn more about its atheist neighbors, and that’s where a really nice piece by Adam Klinker at the Bellvue Leader comes in. It’s a fairly lengthy profile of some of Omaha Atheists’ members, and it serves as a wonderful contrast between the stereotype of the litigious atheist gadfly and the reality, which is that these folks are really just good, smart, politically-conscious people in the community.
A couple parts stuck out for me, first from Tim Foster, a former preacher and Afhganistan veteran, who said:
There’s a misconception out there that we all want you to be atheists, too. I personally don’t know any atheists like that.
Well, I do, though I think most of them exist on Twitter. But I take his point, and it’s good for non-atheist folks to hear.
Another member, Meagan Wilson, warmed my heart by telling folks, “Come see we don’t eat babies. Much.”
She also tackles the whole thing about us being in league with Satan:
It’s another misconception, she said, just like the notion that atheists are devil worshipers or militantly anti-god. … “But you’d be surprised. It’s something we joke about, but it’s something people still have this mindset about of atheists.”
You would be surprised. The misconception is held, at least loosely, not just by right-wing nuts, but by regular people who just don’t give a lot of thought to this stuff. I was a guest on a Florida radio program once, where the host explained to me beforehand that his audience was mostly conservative, and that they’d need to hear him ask me whether my organization the Center for Inquiry was all about devil worship, just to make sure they knew it wasn’t. I presume he knew his audience well enough to know that this was necessary.