My first piece for The Daily Beast came out this morning, and it’s about the Openly Secular campaign, what we should consider discrimination, and what atheists can do to be proactive about all of this.
This past May, Joni Mars’ 6-year-old daughter was assaulted on the school bus after telling another student that she didn’t believe in God. The other child started by spitting on and pinching her daughter. “The other little kids on the bus were egging him on and telling him to hit her and kick her. So he did,” Mars told me.
Joni’s daughter came home, covered in bruises and crying. When her husband approached the other child’s family, they promised to take care of it, but the child assaulted her daughter again three days later on the playground. “That was the final straw,” she said. This month, the Mars family moved from Oklahoma City to upstate New York, hoping to live somewhere more progressive.
Now, a new organization is purporting to highlight abuses like this one, hoping to address what they describe as “a major civil equality issue of our time.” Openly Secular, an effort composed of two dozen nonreligious organizations, provides a collection of stories from everyday nonbelievers as well as resources for students, parents, and secular Americans. Efforts like this can only be a good thing, but I think it misses atheist prejudice for what it is: part of a larger tussle in the United States over moral choices outside of the mainstream.