My Secular-Raised Bias: Religion’s Got Cooties!

My Secular-Raised Bias: Religion’s Got Cooties! December 9, 2016

Religious bias isn’t confined to believers. To me, religion has always had cooties.

Photo credit:
Photo credit: CC BY-SA 3.0,

Eww, I don’t want to touch that!

In my case, faith is unlikely to be catching, but why risk exposure?

Being raised an agnostic has heightened my immune reaction to religion. Like the hygiene hypothesis proposes, lack of early exposure to faith tends to trigger an outsized psychological reaction when I find myself in unavoidable contact with religion.

That’s a problem in a culture teeming with the microbes of religious belief systems. Should I traverse the streets in a surgical mask like people do in some nations? A gas mask? Or maybe even a hazmat suit?

The thing is, I need to be able to learn to live in a world still ruled by Bronze Age superstitions. You can’t simply wish religion away into the corn field.

I’ve been thrust into the wider world of religious bloggers and columnists while participating in a joint Patheos and Beliefnet blogger/columnist boot camp. Being has forced me to mingle me among a varied selections of faith groups has reminded of the hazards of my aversion to religion.

Don’t worry–I’ve been a good little atheist. But I’ve had to confront my bigotries while providing constructive criticism of religious blogs and columns.

That’s probably good for someone with so little experience conversing with believers on anything deeper than the weather. And maybe I should be reminded that I’m not without religious biases from time to time.

I’m sure many of my fellow “campers” are probably feeling the same way about me and the other Patheos Atheist blogger participating.

Being among people of other religious traditions–including none of the above for the believers in the group–is an important way to prime a person’s emotional immune system to tolerate exposure to ideas that might trigger a negative reaction. Certainly, I’m no stranger to anti-atheist bias.

Yet prejudice works both ways. Atheists aren’t immune from ingrained religious bias.

Yes, I’m right to call out anti-atheist bias wherever I see it. But I also have to admit that I have an overactive immune system of my own.

Photo credit:
Photo credit: By Kevbonham (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0].

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