Recently I have become more aware of prejudice and bigotry against atheists in America. I believe that a lot of this is because of negative myths perpetuated by extremist religious groups. The most glaring example of this is a University of Minnesota poll involving 2,000 households in the United States, which found that atheists ranked lower than Muslims, recent immigrants, gays and lesbians, and other minority groups in "sharing their vision of American society."
I Would Disapprove if My Child Wanted to Marry a Member of This Group
-African American 27.2
-Asian American 18.5
-Conservative Christian 6.9
Source: American Mosaic Project Survey, 2003
Therefore I will attempt to dispel these myths and set the record straight.
1. Atheists are angry at God.
Atheists believe God to be a fictional being, so how could they be angry at a fictional being. That's like saying someone is angry at Darth Vader or the Grinch or Zeus. Zeus was once praised by millions but you never hear anyone say "You don't believe in Zeus? Are you angry at Zeus?"
2. Atheist advertising is an attack on religion.
Atheist advertising is not meant for believers at all, it's meant as a means for atheist to express themselves and to connect to other atheists. American Atheists, who are responsible for a large number of these advertisements, says that "the target audience of our billboard is "closeted" atheists". Religious people have religious meetings that they go to in order to socialize that atheist haven't had until recently. Atheist organizations give atheists a social network that religious people have had for thousands of years.
3. Atheists believe in nothing.
Actually atheists believe in a lot of things. They believe in human compassion, intelligence, love, beauty, science and reason. And we believe all gods are mythical like Zeus, Jupiter and Odin.
4. Atheists have no morality.
This myth comes from the mistaken idea that morality comes from a religious text, when in actuality it comes from society and reason. "Holy" scriptures have been used in the past to defend and justify slavery, segregation and apartheid; to keep women from being educated, entering the professions, voting or being ordained; to justify war, to persecute and kill Jews, Muslims and Christians; to condemn other world religions; and to continue the oppression and rejection of gay, lesbian and transgendered people. Who is more moral, the person who is moral because s/he is afraid of going hell, or the atheist who is moral because it's the right thing to do? Who is more moral, the atheist who doesn't commit sins because s/he believes that certain sins are unforgiveable, or the Christian who commits theft, rape, assault and murder, and then believes all s/he has to do is ask for forgiveness and all is forgiven? Evangelical Christians believe a that child rapist and murder who accepts Jesus Christ as their personal savior and asks Jesus for forgiveness will go to heaven but an atheist who never cheats, steals, lies or hurts anyone will go to hell.
Also the Federal Bureau of Prisons statistics suggest that atheists are more moral than Christians
As the American Religious Identification Survey of 2008 showed that 15 percent of Americans identify as non-religious, but the Federal Bureau of Prisons statistics show atheists at .209 percent. The following are total number of inmates per religion category.
Catholic 29267 39.164%
Protestant 26162 35.008%
Muslim 5435 7.273%
American Indian 2408 3.222%
Nation 1734 2.320%
Rasta 1485 1.987%
Jewish 1325 1.773%
Church of Christ 1303 1.744%
Pentecostal 1093 1.463%
Moorish 1066 1.426%
Buddhist 882 1.180%
Jehovah Witness 665 0.890%
Adventist 621 0.831%
Orthodox 375 0.502%
Mormon 298 0.399%
Scientology 190 0.254%
Atheist 156 0.209%
Hindu 119 0.159%
Santeria 117 0.157%
Sikh 14 0.019%
Bahai 9 0.012%
Krishna 7 0.009%
5. Atheists want to remove religion from everywhere.
Atheists want to remove religion from the government, but they do not want to remove religion from private homes, places of worship or the general public. The Founding Fathers created the United States of America as a democracy not as a theocracy. They knew that the only way to insure religious freedom is to keep religion and government separate.
The original motto of the United States of America was "E pluribus unum" Latin for "out of many, one." As an honorably discharged military veteran, this was the ideal for which I served my country, not "in God we trust" which is exclusionary and religiously intolerant. Basically this motto says that if I don't believe in God, I'm not a true American, and this offends me.
6. Atheists want to ban prayer in schools.
This is one of the most misunderstood laws there is. The Supreme Court has upheld on multiple cases that prayer in public school is in violation of the First Amendment's Establishment Clause. First of all this law only applies to public schools. Private schools are allowed to have organized prayer so if you want your child to pray in school there are plenty of private schools that offer this kind of forced religion. Secondly there is nothing in this law that says individuals can't pray in school. There is nothing in this law that says teachers or administrators can't pray in school. Only forced prayers are banned. A teacher praying with his/her class is forcing personal religious beliefs on that whole class. A principal praying with the entire school is forcing personal religious beliefs on that whole school. Forced prayers in public schools deny parents the right to choose what religion their child is taught. The laws against prayer in school are there to protect the rights of parents to provide children with religious instruction without interference from the State. For more information I recommend this site <http://religioninthepublicschools.com>.
7. There are no atheists in foxholes.
As a veteran and an atheist I find this myth offensive as it serves to minimalize my service in support of religious freedom. There is also the Military Association of Atheists & Freethinkers (MAAF) a large organization that supports the rights of atheist military personal.
We cannot allow our government to endorse religion even slightly for it's a thin line from endorse to enforce.