Campaign to Raise Awareness of Discrimination Against Non-Theists

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    Have you lost a job, a friendship or a relationship with a family member due to your non-belief? Has your business suffered? Have you been bullied or insulted?

    If so, we’d like to know about it. Send your story to www.openlysecular.org/discrimination. It may be featured in a campaign to raise awareness of discrimination against non-theists.

     

    26 COMMENTS

    1. Living in England I have not really experienced discrimination for being an atheist apart from occasionally being called a heretic or being condescended to by people saying they feel sorry for me because ‘My life must be so shallow if I haven’t let Jesus into my heart’ or some other inanity. This is water off a duck’s back to me.
      My main fear is that while I will debate with anyone about atheism outside of work I would be very wary of doing that in the workplace as I would feel that most companies would protect the rights of the religious over those of an atheist if the religious person took offence to the atheist’s views.
      In the USA Freedom of expression is enshrined in the First Amendment which allows people to say what they think even if what they say is considered offensive.
      In the UK we have freedom of expression only up to the point where it is arbitrarily considered offensive whereby it can become a hate crime.
      Personally I prefer the US way as the right to offend is important in a democracy.
      I would imagine though that in the USA where the majority of people are religious that being an atheist is a much bigger deal.
      I have just finished reading Peter Boghassian’s book ‘A Manual for Creating Atheists’ and having read it I greatly admire anyone in the USA who is prepared to stand up for being an atheist as religion seems to be so engrained in the culture and society.

      • I recently heard a remarkable statement made by John Ameche, the English former NBA player who disclosed his homosexuality after retiring form pro basketball. In an interview with a Miami radio station about a month ago, Ameche said that he figured out very quickly that it is much worse to be an atheist in America than it is to be gay. Consider the gravity of that statement made by a gay athlete working in Orlando, Florida who was subjected to the typical hateful screeds directed at gay men in America by the religious right-wing. I’m not saying his opinion is necessarily correct and I in no way intend to diminish or excuse the hateful treatment of homosexuals by christians in America, but I found it remarkable that a gay man from Europe would make that assessment of American culture.

    2. The separation of church and state doesn’t seem to have any influence in Australia as our religious government has decided to remove thousand of social workers in schools and spend MILLIONS of dollars replacing them with chaplains. But what about non believers, don’t our kids deserve the option for normal and unbiased social support? We are all born atheists until someone starts telling us lies, and its time the lies were exposed for what they really are, discrimination! Good luck Richard, you have my complete support but its looking like a long, long battle ahead of us. I suspect the political growth of religions around the world is a knee jerk reaction to islamaphobia and unfortunately the majority are still blind to the facts that all religions are the problem, not the solution.

    3. The problem with discrimination, in my mind, is that it works in so many directions. If I was a company boss interviewing two equally suitable and capable candidates for a job, and one was openly Christian, whilst the other was openly atheistic or anti-theistic, and being a Christian myself, would it be fair for my first choice to be the Christian?

      But now, let’s assume that instead I’m an atheist and I want to run my business under a strictly secular regime, and I’m interviewing the same two candidates. Would it be fair for my first choice to be the atheist … ?

      • If I was a company boss interviewing two equally suitable and capable candidates for a job, and one was openly Christian, whilst the other was openly atheistic or anti-theistic, and being a Christian myself, would it be fair for my first choice to be the Christian?

        But now, let’s assume that instead I’m an atheist and I want to run my business under a strictly secular regime, and I’m interviewing the same two candidates. Would it be fair for my first choice to be the atheist … ?

        It is very unlikely that two people’s skills would match exactly., so the suggestion that they are perceived as “equally suitable and capable candidates for a job”, is likely to be a reflection of a lack of analytical competence on the part of the interviewer.

        Surely a job interview is about the competence to do the job. Not about who is going to discriminate on the basis of personal affiliations or prejudices!

        That is why anti-discrimination legislation outlaws questions about a person’s religion when making public appointments.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Employment_discrimination_law_in_the_European_Union

        If an interviewer cannot use a better basis for matching people to secular jobs, than religious prejudice, they are clearly not competent as an interviewer. (The appointment of a Vicar or priest could be a special case.)

      • No on both counts. Preferential treatment or discrimination based on religious belief, or lack thereof, is despicable and wrong, no matter how you try to rationalize it. Given that it is highly unlikely that two candidates for the same job would ever be truly “equally suitable” your hypothetical is pretty well obtuse to objective reality.

      • I would take offense if during an interview, the interviewer asked my religious views, because it’s not a relevant question with regard to the job, and it’s a private thing above all else.

        In the same way, I would take offense if the interviewer asked what my sexual preference is.

    4. After I lost my home due to the economy here in Michigan-I bounced around from homeless shelter to homeless shelter. One thing that just kept smacking me the face was the fact that the endless parade of these centers of managed poverty were all managed, owned and operated by churches and or Christian organizations. It wasn’t so much bullying or threats but the constant goddamned suffocating tirades and references to “father god” and blessings. and having to bow your head before dinner like a good little sheep, take off you hat and thank big brother for the meal he gave you. And by the way-these shelters claim to help you out of poverty, but unfortunately-you’re on your own. Good luck with the job and housing search.
      Where the hell where the blessings when I lost my home, my career, my independence. Either god was taking a long break since the last time I was told by a preacher that he’d come back to earth or he was just getting too old and feeble for the job and just couldn’t pull another magic rabbit out of his wizard’s sleeve like he did in all those old bible movies.
      David Smith

    5. For a long time I could keep my (non)believe for myself. I was a Roman Catholic and did very well in my job, but never visited church. Still, in a discussion with my chief I once declared I could not think of living forever. It would be boring after years, let alone after billions and billions of years. He then tried to convince me I had no choice in that. Only one day later he give me a bible and pointed out a verse, something like but he who believes in me will live forever. And immediately I replied and that is the one thing I don’t want. Things became cool between us. Half a year later, just before I should get an new function, with a better payment, strange things started to happen. An investigation was started for my integrity and the investigation became worse and worse. They could keep it running, till the post I should get, was given to another person. They even said I should understand, when under investigation, I could not be promoted. And someone should do the job. And then suddenly every thing of the investigation disappeared. I was no longer under investigation. It became so bad, that after I officially made a complaint about what had been going on, not a single shred of paper could be found. No official and no un official paper was left in my dossier. Later I did understand all personnel above me went to church every Sunday. Although they were not Roman Catholics, they all were Christians. While dreaming from heaven, they can make non believers world to hell.

    6. @david smith and HarrietM July2

      These accounts are dreadful! It’s hard to believe things like this could happen in the 21st century in a modern, western democracy! I guess it’s a good reason to bite your tongue at times. My only experience of discrimination was a social one. I was gradually edged out of a book club I attended. It was subtle I admit, but I felt the pressure to conform. Not that every member was a believer; there was a core of church going RC believers, a couple of Protestants ( probably non-believers who chose to keep silent) and a couple of other out-and-proud atheists. I think I must have been too “out”! No job loss or direct pressure, but a quiet form of ostracism that eventually forced me to take my leave.

      • Nitya Jul 2, 2014 at 5:09 pm
        These accounts are dreadful! It’s hard to believe things like this could happen in the 21st century in a modern, western democracy!

        It is worth remembering that nepotism is a characteristic of backward corrupt tribal societies. It has very destructive effects on the economy, because it does not appoint the most competent candidates for the jobs, and frequently selects grossly incompetent or corrupt people.

        Organisations then end up staffed by friends from the church/golf club/old school pals, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins etc. rather than the most competent properly trained professionals for the job. If anti-science, anti-education, home-schooled, madrassa or bible schooled ignoramuses are involved, the road to primitive backwardness is even clearer.

    7. I’m in retailing in the US. I’ve learned over the years not to make an issue of religion, especially with management. I don’t remember a single such conversation with somebody higher up that ever effected my status at a job. Where I’ve had trouble is with customers, oddly enough. There are people who take advantage of the customer relationship to push their religious views on you. It’s happened most frequently with christian fundamentalists, but also with muslims and even buddhists (twice actually).

      With fellow employees on the same level, I have expressed religious views. I don’t recommend it unless you already know that they are at least agnostic. If they are religious they can make themselves hard to work with and the situation could easily last for as long as both of you are employed. In one case it had indirect consequences with management.

      I’ve learned that the safest reply when such people ask your “religion” is to reply that, “I’m very satisfied with my religious views, which are so private that I never discuss them with anybody!”
      This seems to be about the only thing that gives them a hint (a) you aren’t conversion fodder and (b) they are intruding.

    8. There are over 400 churches in the so-called greater Pontiac, Michigan area [where I currently reside in a homeless shelter] and for some reason these churches don’t have the resolve to pitch in and pool their resources with their collection plates and help create jobs-even as simple as paying people to help clean up the town. Instead, one preacher of the small mega-church in town-who by the way, owns the shelter mentioned- constantly reminds his flock how short of the financial weekly goal they are. He also occasionally reminds them of what snakes and sheep and sinners they all are.
      It seems that money isn’t everything with this group of Christians-it’s the only thing. These are the same holy deacons who own delivery vans with the phrase painted on their sides; ” helping the homeless”. I was there and one of those homeless who was used as free-labor and then kicked out of the shelter after my thirty days was up. One resident referred to our group as ” a thirty-day maid service. David Smith

      • David, I have gained a tremendous amount of respect for you in these few passages you’ve written on this page. Yours, and other voices like it, need to be heard from more often. I hope your economic/living situation improves very soon and I really hope you continue to write about your experiences.

        I live right behind a very large, opulent church with a large, two-story (rare in our neck of the woods) Mediterranean style house, complete with a swimming pool, where the pastor resides. The membership at this church is almost exclusively Haitian immigrants and their children. Most of the men work off the books as unskilled laborers in construction or landscaping and the women typically work food service or custodial/janitorial kinds of jobs, jobs that typically pay the minimum wage or even less if they’re not “on paper”. So this palatial church, complete with the pastor’s McMansion, was built by the tithing of the desperately poor.

    9. I was at the homeless shelter breakfast on Sunday, when I nice lady who I knew from a previous church asked me if I’d like to join her bible class. She had this request on her mind for quite some time, thinking about me and my welfare in the most sincere way.
      But I had to tell her that I’ve gone through this many times over the course of fifty years, and even though her intensions were good, I had no use for the bible and it’s ‘teachings’.
      Again-this was a very decent person, but it seems that when Christians approach you with joining their cult, no matter how old you are, they seem to think that it’s for the first time and you’ve never been approached by anyone like this ever before. She even said that it would offer a new perspective on how I see things. I’ve been in and out of homeless shelters for two years out of the last four since I lost my home and the whole miserable experience has changed my perspective. No god ever came to my rescue, saved me from harm or filled me with love for my fellow man or god itself. I neither love nor fear god. Sadly, these thinly-disguised fairy-tales passed off as learning tools for life will go on as long as religion infiltrates what’s left of society, perpetuated often by good, well-meaning people. Also, religion doesn’t seem to solve problems-it tends to create problems. David Smith

    10. Death at the Homeless Shelter: Yesterday, a beloved member of our family passed away-let’s call him Kenny. Kenny’s in a better place now, looking down on us, protecting us as a guardian angle, making a nuisance of himself to god, because Kenny was a nuisance in life-a good, god-fearing, church-going Christian, who was obnoxious, heavy on the by-polar side, but a child of god none the less. Kenny was also loved by his many, enabling, equally useless friends. The truth is, Kenny was no angle-there are no real angles. I’ll be watching out for myself, thank you [ no angles need apply]. Kenny died yesterday and dead he’ll stay and he was an obnoxious asshole, heavy on the bi-polar side. The first of the sappy, Christian mush about Kenny came out at the pot-luck dinner during a make-shift eulogy in his honor. For, it seems that whenever someone dies, they automatically become a saint-no matter what a lousy form of life they were in life. Christian culture over the centuries has forced us to not speak ill of the dead and anoint them to sainthood once they’re dead, no matter what a ball of shit they were in life. This culture has also made us honor those who had no honor and performed no honorable deeds-merely because they did something we’re all going to have to do-and that is to die. I have no problem speaking ill of the dead, especially when they did and said a lot of ill-willed things in life. In conclusion, I’m not afraid of being haunted by some self-righteous ghost[ who doesn't exist] because Christian culture has created these fears and superstitions centuries ago. David Smith

    11. Actual, quantifiable losses attributable to my atheism have been few, acquaintances that didn’t care to get better acquainted once they knew of my atheism mostly. But, that’s because I live in a part of America in which one must still be very guarded about non-belief. It would wreck my career if my Roman Catholic boss ever discovered my non-belief. The County Sheriff where most of my family lives has, on three separate occasions, willfully and wantonly exceeded the authority of his office and broke the law when he filed bogus charges against a woman who was legal counsel for a local humanist organization after she inquired about the legality of the Sheriffs donations of County property to a local church. The charges were dismissed, but the Sheriff was not disciplined for his abuse of power and has since been re-elected by a wide margin. Things are getting better for us in the States, but there are still vast tracts of the map in which atheists must be very guarded about to whom they disclose their non-belief.

    12. I never thought one word would become so annoying until I heard the repetition of it over the course of the last ten years-and that word is ” blessed”. Blessings, blessed and blessedness have kept turning up just about everywhere I’ve gone in my recent limited travels. For it seems that ever since my financial situation got worse, plus being in an area that seems like a giant, open-air Christian cult [ which is what Pontiac, Michigan is ] the word keeps popping up in my face. What are these blessings anyway? Did god tap me on my placenta and embryonic sack before I was born with his magic wand and give me talent? It didn’t prevent me from losing my home. Did god cast a magic spell on me to protect me from satan? I don’t feel protected. Shit happens to me like it happens to everyone else. The homeless living on the streets don’t seem particularly blessed-even though some of them are Christians. I guess it’s force of habit-no pun intended-with the faithful. They just can’t help it, I guess. After thousands of years of this force-fed faith induction, I don’t expect it to go away. David Smith

      • “blessed”, they just can’t help it, I guess

        Yeah, first time I heard the grocery store lady say “have a blessed day!”, it kind of threw me off guard. She is nice about it, but, if I hadn’t gone there, my day would’ve been cursed?

    13. Thanks, Robert and Bonnie for your support. I have no intention of giving up. Poverty is not a life-style choice for me, as some have lead themselves to think. Failure and giving up is not an option. I walk down the desolate streets of Pontiac from the shelter to the library seeing many homeless who’ve given up and are now fixtures of poverty in this town. In fact, I’ve made a few business contacts on my own-without god’s help, by the way- just by walking to those businesses in an otherwise “dead” town. I will keep writing about my experiences until I escape from this place. By the way-there happens to be a minister in this town who’s raking in the big bucks from the donations he gets from many local rich, powerful and famous people in the southeastern Michigan area. He also owns property-it was given to him actually as tax-deductible donations, ranging from so-called halfway houses to rehab drug addicts to a homeless shelter where thirty-day residents like me were used as free labor to a small mega-church. This all falls under the heading of ” non-profit.” Although the good pastor drives a $100,000 SUV and he has some obscure faith-based radio show. It’s been said that the good pastor left Arkansas to get away from some tax-related issues. Again-many thanks to the atheist community for your support. David Smith

    14. Recently, I’ve had a rather decent person offer the phrase ” thank god” to me just because I found a small free-lance job on my own. Now, the job doesn’t pay much, in fact-it’s basically the equivalent of lunch money. The job won’t change my life or elevate me back to middle-class status. It’s like the other catch-phrase, ” godspeed”, that has permeated what’s left of this broken society. If god has anything to do with me acquiring these small jobs after four years of living below poverty, including two of those four years in and out of homeless shelters-then this god better get into another line of work, because speed has nothing to do with him, and he sure sucks as a genie. As far as godspeed goes, it seems that god is either as fast or as slow as it takes for something good to happen in one’s life. Seems more like a coincidence to me, or just dumb luck or being in the right place at the right time and meeting the right people. David Smith

    15. [ The Religion of Peace or Love That God and God is Love] As Sam Harris once stated about the multitudes of religions and their offshoots-”They can’t all be right”. There has been a cold war of words going on within religions-especially with Christianity and all it’s branches: protestant and jews, Baptists and calvinsists, muslims and hindus Of course, there are the actual shooting wars that we see in the news everyday-especially in the middle-east, but also in parts of Africa and Eastern Europe. A house divide can’t stand -even if it lasts for a thousand years, but it has to fall eventually. The religious bullying continues with words, that eventually leads to bombs and bullets. Hell-religion bullies not just those outside of it’s holy order, but within. It’s amazing the whole system has lasted this long without ripping itself completely apart centuries ago. No matter how often the minions of religion claim to be about peace, love and life, all they manage to do is force conformity; conformity to god’s alleged word. If you don’t conform, then comes violence and then death. Religion has never brought about peace of prosperity-except for the latter, and only applying to it’s own. I give that little kingdom in Italy that sees itself as its own country. If god is watching all this go on under his own eyes, then it would seem that not only is he a bad father but also a worse life-partner. David Smith

    16. [ The All-Knowing and Powerful Oz-I mean god. Only god knows, but he ain't tellin'. Forgive the grammar].There is the contradiction that god is an all-knowing, all-seeing, mysterious being whose mind and actions are a puzzle to man that can never be fully understood-except for certain believers-like Christians. I’ve come across plenty of Christians, who in spite of this acknowledgement, claim to know god with intimate detail-like a best friend or some creepy, inept father figure [ thanks to George Carlin for the latter refence]. They know what he says, what he thinks and in particular, who he hates. It seems that he hates a lot. He hates homosexuals. people who disagree with him and his word, and he hates ugly-even though he does nothing to make the ugly go away, what with all his magic, cosmic super power and all. You would think he would just make satan disappear. Since he’s so all-knowing, you would think he wouldn’t have allowed satan to exist in the first place, considering god would know all the evil he’d perpetrate in the future. Oh, and then there’s all the other hate god used to do. He used to hate jews, brown people and disbelievers. I guess he gave that up for mostly hating gays these days[ at least that's how groups like the Wesborough Baptist Church and other similar non-thinking types like them feel]. David Smith

    17. { The Yahweh Test] I’ve encountered a lot of Christians who’ve told me that god was testing me-especially when things weren’t especially pleasant. I thought-why does an all-knowing being need to test me when he knows the outcome of everything? He knows when I’m going to die along with how and when the second of my death will occur. So what’s all this testing about. According to believers, Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden was a test for man. He has all the answers-why the test? One christian even told me that god knew everything about me even before he created the universe. As far as the universe goes-if god were so smart, you would think he’d plan out all the possible universes he could make and then create the best one for life, instead of this crappy reality he settled for, filled with death, disease, hunger, poverty, violence and ignorance. He allegedly knows everything that will happen until the end of time and yet he allows for a lot of ugliness. But Christians always have an excuse-like; “It’s god’s will” and ” everything happens for a reason’. Televangelists like Joel Osteen even portray god as a motivational speaker when they state that ” god wants you to be your best.” Certain Christians in the shelter where I reside state time and again that god put me here. What kind of father would put me in a homeless shelter and let me end up destitute, when I was much more prosperous before all this shit happened-and I worked for all my prosperity.! Believe me-this is not my best. I’ve got higher standards than this and it’s an insult to my intelligence.
      One can only stretch the limits of a fairy-tale so far before you loose your audience. David Smith

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