Being an Atheist in an Atheist country

I saw Cem USLU's post about being an atheist in a muslim community and cannot help but feel sorry for those of you which find yourself in such a situation. I'm not making light of it, nor am I trying to steal thunder, but I happen to live in an atheist country (sort of), and I thought it might be informative to see how it is in this "heaven". I think it can probably be best done via an example which illustrates how common people thinks, at least those comment and vote on the internet.

There's been a bit of a debate here lately whether police officers should be allowed to wear a hijab, and the idea was recently rejected by a commission. This has prompted a sociologist at the theological faculty to write an opinion piece (you can probably get the just of it if you run it through google translate) asking for a "rethink" (those are popular here) in the second largest tabloid, which happens to be a bit left leaning and islamoapologetic. In any event, the article in itself is... pretty much what you can expect of it. However, what is interesting is the comment section, and I'll translate some of the highest upvoted comments:

By thorfeil (611 ups, 2 downs):

(The government monopoly on) Violence is not neutral as such, but it should be exercised neutrally. This means that those who exercise this power should not impose their personal beliefs on you, but be neutral and act objectively.

The opposite of neutral exercise of power is one which the practitioner expresses personal beliefs and forces you to deal with it when their power is exercised.

Personal religious or political symbols has no place on a uniform. At least not on the police uniform. Police must appear neutral, and the person on the receiving end of violence should not have to deal with police officers personal conviction.

Police officers represent the state, not themselves.

As an addition tot he above, umodererbar (255 ups, 4 downs) adds:

The question is rather whether the religious should get a job in law enforcement or as other government officials ..

Can we trust people who cannot distinguish fantasy from reality?

The discussion goes on a bit back on forth around those points, and there are some reasonable pushbacks to the second post in particular which get upvotes. (And some blatantly racist ones which get deleted.)

Thorfeil has a number of thread starters which are highly upvoted, but cand_alt chimes in (153 upvotes, 2 down) later with:

And I look forward to the first policeman with a kippah raid a local gang of right-wing extremists, a police woman with hijab likewise, or a kippah wearer have a go at the "Muslim" A or B-gang (s)?
That the author views the right of religious expression as superseding the right of freedom from religion is one thing, but that he wants to make part of the police unable to do their job because it is too dangerous due their religious hats is stupid .

And lastly, 5string says (96 upvotes, 1 down):

Can we turn this a bit around and ask:
Is it possible that people with such a strong religious conviction that they must show this with clothing and other items, perform a neutral job in such a non-religious country like Norway?


Now, stuff like this is almost a daily occurrence in the major Norwegian papers and I'd be more than happy to liaise it. There is little or no room left for religion. And, I dare say, there's possibly hope for the world. 

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