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Austin Cline

I'm An Atheist - So What?

By August 14, 2004

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Remember the atheist invocation in Tampa, Florida from a few days ago? The one so many theists reacted so badly to? Well, other atheists in the state are pointing out that there was no good justification for such a reaction.

In the St. Petersburg Times, atheist Robyn L. Blumner writes:

As an atheist I am a member of the last minority group that is still subject to open and acceptable derision and discrimination. ... What White may not know is that a far larger percentage of his constituency are already nonbelievers than he suspects. A 2001 survey conducted by the Graduate Center of the City University of New York found that more than 29-million adult Americans say they identify with no religion. Of those, more than 6-million said they didn't believe in God. Compare that to the number of adult Americans who say they are Jewish (2.8-million), Muslim (1.1-million), Unitarian (600,000) or Buddhist (1.1-million).
If national statistics equate even in broad terms to Tampa, then inviting Unitarian and Muslim speakers to give the inspirational words to begin the council meeting represents the views of many fewer residents than inviting atheists to do so. ... My faith is in mankind and the marvels accomplished by human ingenuity and drive. Why that makes me a pariah to White and others like him is beyond my ken. It certainly says more about them than me.

Usually, one would expect a politician to abandon principle in the quest for more votes ó if that is indeed the case, then these politicians should probably wisen up and be a bit more tolerant of those with whom they disagree. Yes, itís possible to be tolerant of someone you think is wrong. It simply requires not having a monstrous ego that causes you to assume your own infallibility. There are those incapable of this modicum of humanity, but most should be able to manage it.

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