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America's Most Distrusted Minority
According to a poll done by motherjones.com, 52% of Americans wouldn’t vote a well-qualified atheist for president. In a study by the University of Minnesota, over 2000 people were asked which of their fellow citizens lacked proper “vision of American society.” Atheists were the most popular choice.
Atheists are not allowed to take part in Boy Scouts. For some time, atheists were not allowed to testify in a court of law. It is still in the books of the following states that atheists may not hold government offices: Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Maryland.
And though he denied the claim, it was reported that George H. W. Bush once said, “I don’t think atheists should be considered citizens, nor should they be considered patriots.”
Prejudice against atheism is a largely neglected corner of discrimination in America, mostly because it is so generally tolerated. In 2007, 78.5% of Americans described themselves as Christian on the American Religious Identification Survey, and the country is said to be “one nation, under God.”
It is Psalm 14:1 that says “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none who does good.” This seems to be the general consensus against atheists; because they have no god or moral standard to live up to, it is only society’s conventions that restrain them from running rampant and wrecking havoc.
I cannot help but disagree. Bill Gates, who has established multiple foundations for everything from college scholarships to AIDS prevention and donated billions to charity, is atheist. Actress and humanitarian Angelina Jolie is atheist. Civil right activist Susan B. Anthony and Charles Schulz, the creator of “Peanuts” do not believe in a god. The list goes on. You cannot tell me that people like these have done “abominable works,” nor that they haven’t done good for the world.
In 1999, the Federal Bureau of Prisons found that 75% of inmates declared themselves Christians. This aligns perfectly with the 75% of Christian Americans that year. However, while about 10% of the American population is atheist, only 0.2% of inmates describe themselves as such.
Furthermore, also in 1999, George Barna, a Christian sociologist, performed a study of the divorce rate and found that “Born Again Christians” had a 27% chance of divorce and “Mainstream Protestants” had a 25% chance of divorce. On the other hand, “Atheists and Agnostics” had only a 21% chance of divorce.
If atheists are such fools who do evil deeds, why do the numbers say otherwise? If atheist Warren Buffett does not believe in heaven, then why else would he have donated over thirty-seven billion dollars to charity? Could it be that he is just a generous and good man wouldn’t needing a god to prod him into giving?
This is not an argument for atheism; this is a prayer for acceptance and a faith in fellow Americans to know what is right and what is wrong.