I'm a christian living in the UK. Some people on here have intimated that atheists in the US are persecuted in some ways. I have no idea what this means, but would very interested to find out. So the questions is how? Its a genuine question, and i'm not looking for discussion on whether God exists etc, just the topic at hand. Thanks.
I am an atheist from Spain and I can tell you. YES! not only in theUS, but all over the World there are millions o atheists in the "closet" for fear of being discriminated against, even persecuted, tortured and executed in religious dictatorships. In Latin America, atheists are very isolated in many communities, surrounded by ignorant, fanatic believers... 93% of US scientists are in the "closet" at work and declare themselves non believers in private.
I am from south africa and i promise you it happens there. i was about 15 when i came out atheist and suffered the backlash, At school i had my fellow students, teachers, the principal and the preachers that used to come around every thursday all call me evil, a devil worshiper, continualy tell me how i was going to burn in hell for all eternity etc etc. In a school of nearly a thousand people i was the only atheist there untill i made a handfull of friends and turned them onto atheism.but then when that was noticed their parents would get a call from concerned teachers and parents about how i was a bad influence and atheist and a majority of the time they would be told they where not allowed to be friends with me.
and the same happened when i left school and started working. as soon as it was known i was an atheist i would be shunned, delegated the worst work and let go at the slightest opportunity.
I Can promise you it is not easy being atheist in a highly religious country and i cant tell you just how amazing it is to live in England where religion is not an issue. Infact i have found among the younger generation it is very uncommon to find a believing christian
It depends on your definition of persecution. Atheists are generally misunderstood, reviled, and discriminated against in certain ways in the United States. However, persecution would be a bit hyperbolic when compared to what persecution represents in other scenarios and in other countries.
Also, the U.S. is a large country, geographically speaking. An atheist living in New York would likely have a vastly different experience than one living in Des Moines, who in turn would have a different experience than one living in the deep south.
All in all, most Americans don't trust atheists and would elect to public office candidates of a different religion before choosing an atheist. There are many stereotypes and misunderstandings among the general population regarding atheism.
I am from the USA and yes, atheists are persecuted. I have had a stalker that harrasses me almost daily on youtube and I have even had death threats.
I am going to try and give some information about persecution and the behavior of some Christians and Christian groups in the United States in regards to non-believing citizens here. I will try and not get into a war of words regarding the general aspects of atheism vs. religious peoples beliefs, as your inquiry seems honest and fair.
I have lived in the United States for 51 years. I have been an atheist since my early teens (really as soon as I could really form an informed personal decision on the matter.) In grade school I received constant ridicule by many christian schoolmates regarding my non-belief. Even the parents of the religiously inclined students harassed me, and attempts were made by some teachers to somehow change my atheist perspective (this was in a public school, not a religious institution) I have been fired from jobs because people found out about my atheist viewpoints. I have never pushed my philosophies on any one,especially in the work environment. I do not and have never hidden or not been honest to anyone about my lack of a belief in supernatural beings or religions in general. Traveling through the bible belt in America as a child and early teen, did learn to have fear for my life and well being from many religious people, as they seemed to consider an non-believer/atheist on the same negative platform as Hitler, Stalin the Antichrist or countless other objects of hate.,
There are still states in the U.S. that ban a atheist from holding public office. To even consider the attempt to run for election in publicly held offices you would need to be a christian or lie about your atheism. There is one elected official in the US senate and house that admits to not having a belief in some kind of god or gods.
As an adult I have had many threats on my life and property from certain christian peoples and groups. Today I was told by other workers at my job that I was not to bring any of my science books to read while on break, and that I better not tell anyone of my lack of belief in the supernatural. I work at a large aero-space company that has government contracts, and thankfully if I am fired for my atheism, many lawyers are in the wings to sue the heck out of them. But you need to know that in many other jobs in the United States that have a small amount of employees, you can be fired for not believing in christianity, and people have no real protection against this intolerance.
I have many many more personal experiences, and can bring to the front countless other experiences of other atheists that have had similar unpleasant events brought on by the intolerance of many christians in this country. I have met some christians that actually seem to at least follow the basic teachings of the christian religion and respect other peoples viewpoints, but the environment here can be just as dangerous and unfair as a fundamental Islamic controlled society.
Facts and rationality do not need to bend and contort against the force of irrational and supernatural based belief structures....rationality and facts are not held in check even by the force of a psuedo-democracy The positive aspect for me and many of the non-believing citizens here in the United States, is that our population is now the second largest social/ philosophical grouping here. We just need to exert our social and political energy to demand a secular and fair government and public domain. We need to show our faces and come out of the "closet" not to be intimidated by religious fundamentalists determined to silence science and the rational behavior of many of our best citizens. I think that you do not have a clear picture of what it feels like to be marginalized and yes, even persecuted for you beliefs or in my case a lack of those beliefs in this environment.
I have tried to give some insight into the situation in many areas of the United States regarding your inquiry, I hope that I did not get too verbose and get my strong convictions and words to the point that I may have offended you.....But you did put forth a question and an inquiry that I felt needed an answer...
With the hope of mutual respect and understanding,
Jeff C, In the state of Arizona,
I'm twenty-two years old, I've been an Atheist for nine years, three years publicly. I've lost two jobs (fired for minor, never-been-enforced-before-in-the-entire-company infractions after co-workers complained about me not being a Christian) and about one-hundred friends since my 'coming out'. I've had tires slashed, windows smashed, waste smeared on my car. I routinely receive death threats, hate mail, and the like.
And on one occasion where "get out of the us atheist scum" was carved into my front door, the officer I was dealing with told me he wouldn't help anyone who didn't love Jesus. After filing a complaint with the department about his behavior, the complaint and any record of him responding to my call mysteriously disappeared. That was while living in a smaller community (~8000 people) where I had moved to after graduating high school, because the rent was super cheap. I moved back to my hometown now (~500,000 people) and things are mostly better. I still get death threats via social networking and text message, but the vandalism has ceased, at least.
Those 8000 people probably were all a single family. Inbreds.
Glad to hear it's better now.
I think everybody who has a belief of some sort can plead that they are oppressed in some way or other. Compared to the oppression of gays, women, and the poor in the U.S., I have little to complain about. Whenever you find yourself in a minority of some sort, you can plead oppression.
I am still for the most part "in the closet" with my atheism, not from my family, but mostly because I fear for the backlash against my family. Right now, I live in a larger community where I have friends who can help and support me if needed. Back home, my parents live in a town of 3000 or so, and the high school just put on the play Godspell which was accepted without any criticism for being put on in a public school. Lack of religion is viewed as horrific, even in a place where meth busts and teenage pregnancies are considered norm.
My family knows my views, and I can talk freely with them about it. Its the townspeople that I fear with tell them that they have spawned a son of satan in the absolutely serious manner.
I live in Chicago, IL. Not exactly the bible belt. But there is a stigma to it. I loss a couple of friends because I'm a atheist. But I never really hung out with them anyway so I don't care.
I think they weren't real friends, then, but just people you knew and maybe hung with a bit.