Atheists are America’s most distrusted minority.

Several other blogs have picked up on this and I’m late to the game, but what the hell, I blame it on my WoW addiction.

It’s true, I am the guy your mother warned you about.

According to a new survey by researchers in the University of Minnesota’s department of sociology Atheists are considered to be bad, bad people by the majority of Americans:

From a telephone sampling of more than 2,000 households, university researchers found that Americans rate atheists below Muslims, recent immigrants, gays and lesbians and other minority groups in “sharing their vision of American society.” Atheists are also the minority group most Americans are least willing to allow their children to marry.

The parents of the first woman I asked to marry me weren’t thrilled with the idea of their daughter marrying an atheist and they worked hard to bring about the end of our relationship once we got engaged. It wasn’t the sole reason our relationship fell apart, but it was a factor in it and it left a bad taste in my mouth. Which is why I was so surprised at how accepting my in-laws are of my unbelief despite the fact that they are a reasonably religious family, certainly more so than my own family ever was.

Even though atheists are few in number, not formally organized and relatively hard to publicly identify, they are seen as a threat to the American way of life by a large portion of the American public. “Atheists, who account for about 3 percent of the U.S. population, offer a glaring exception to the rule of increasing social tolerance over the last 30 years,” says Penny Edgell, associate sociology professor and the study’s lead researcher.

Edgell also argues that today’s atheists play the role that Catholics, Jews and communists have played in the past—they offer a symbolic moral boundary to membership in American society. “It seems most Americans believe that diversity is fine, as long as every one shares a common ‘core’ of values that make them trustworthy—and in America, that ‘core’ has historically been religious,” says Edgell. Many of the study’s respondents associated atheism with an array of moral indiscretions ranging from criminal behavior to rampant materialism and cultural elitism.

I’ll give ‘em the materialism and even the cultural elitism, but criminal behavior? Folks, check your prisons and you’ll find the majority of people in there are good old fashioned believers who are supposedly all moral and upstanding thanks to their religious beliefs. Least represented belief group proportionally speaking? Atheists. Must be that cultural elitism making us so damned clever we never get caught or something.

Edgell believes a fear of moral decline and resulting social disorder is behind the findings. “Americans believe they share more than rules and procedures with their fellow citizens—they share an understanding of right and wrong,” she said. “Our findings seem to rest on a view of atheists as self-interested individuals who are not concerned with the common good.”

Which is really ironic to me considering that the vary majority of truly apathetic and self-centered people I’ve known in my life have been true believers while the vast majority of people I’ve known that actually gave a damn about the common good were atheists. It’s entirely possible that my personal experiences are different from the norm, but I haven’t any reason to suspect that is the case.

The researchers also found acceptance or rejection of atheists is related not only to personal religiosity, but also to one’s exposure to diversity, education and political orientation—with more educated, East and West Coast Americans more accepting of atheists than their Midwestern counterparts.

Being more educated makes you more accepting of other’s differences, or in other words, more liberal?!? GASP! Whodathunkit?

In all seriousness, there’s not a whole lot in this new survey that we atheists haven’t known for a long time already. The archive here at SEB has similar entries about previous surveys/studies that have said the same thing. We already know that an openly gay politician with a felony record and an alcohol problem would still be more likely to be elected to political office than an openly atheist candidate. We are the people you love to hate and that’s likely to stay that way for awhile yet to come. So long as being stupid remains fashionable at least.

Not that I’m complaining as entry into The Evil Atheist Conspiracy gets us these wicked cool black capes and long “Snidely Whiplash” mustaches that we can twirl in a sinister fashion as we cook up our plots to take over the world. 

96 thoughts on “Atheists are America’s most distrusted minority.

  1. Regardless of how socially conservative my imaginary atheist wife is, she’s not a Christian.  So the conversation above would happen.  Repeatedly.  Probably every single time I sat down with my kids to read the Bible and talk about what it means to be a Christian, what salvation is, the nature of sin.  Does this seem like a good idea?  If my kids wouldn’t like it, my wife wouldn’t like it, and I wouldn’t like it, how is it a good idea?

    It’s a terrible idea, Daryl, especially since your children will be terrified later in life if they ever have a doubt about their faith.  They’ll be terrified that they’re heading into the lake of fire, and you’re going to be there waving goodbye as they’re tossed in.

    Does this seem like a good idea?  No, it seems like mental abuse of both adults and children.  Why would you want to embrace such a dysfunctional worldview in the first place?

    (Note also that if they’re at all intelligent, when they start having those doubts, the very fact of those insane threats will probably push them even further into doubting the Bible as a whole.  Good luck corralling them in at that point.)

  2. I actually laughed at Daryl’s “pretend” conversation with his kids. What he doesn’t realize is that my family has already been through that kind of conversation, though it wasn’t quite so ridiculous, when my daughter came to live with me at the age of 8. Amazingly enough it wasn’t anywhere near as traumatic or devastating as Daryl implies it would be and my personal experience trumps his fairy tale. Don’t have time to go into it at the moment, I’m headed out the door for work, but I’ll post more about it later today.

  3. Les: What he doesn’t realize is that my family has already been through that kind of conversation … when my daughter came to live with me at the age of 8.

    You situation was rather different, Les.  Your daughter’s mother was not in any danger of coming to live with you and your daughter.  There’s an enormous difference between an absentee parent who worships differently (or not at all), and two adults with kids trying to live in the same house, week in and week out.

    Zilch:Well, my significant other is Catholic, and I’m atheist, and that hasn’t been a problem so far.

    Btw- our kids, now 15 and 17, are both atheists.

    At the risk of repeating what I’ve already said, that might not seem like a “problem” to an atheist like yourself.  No surprise there.  It’s certainly a “problem” to a devout Catholic.

    For the most part, children will follow the faith of their fathers.  That is another reason to urgently and insistently protest if your daughter gets it in her head to marry a non-Christian man.

  4. Just to fling irony into a hot topic… smile

    I’m a “vehement agnositc”  I make no secret of the fact other than to avoid using words like athiest and agnostic when describing my beliefs.  The most accurate and brief way I can describe my beliefs is that if God showed up at my door, I’d be surprised, but I’d offer him a beer and ask him if he could stay for a chat.  My ex-wife is not a fundie, but she believes in God, doesn’t go to church, never preaches to anyone.  Her brother and sister are pretty much the same.

    Their mother on the other hand is a fire-breathing, donkey blinder-wearing fundamentalist that off and on believes all her children are going to Hell because they don’t believe AS SHE DOES*.  It comes as no surprise that I’ve had some rather good arguments with her, not about her beliefs in general, but various specific points in the bible that don’t make sense to me.  She uses all the standard arguments and when I back her into a corner she mumbles something about asking her pastor and that’s the end of the conversation.  I have no illusions about ‘converting’ her, and it isn’t my intention, but I do try to get her thinking critically about the things she simply accepts.

    So as you can expect, it just about floored me to find out that of all the believing boyfriends my wife has had, my ex-mother-in-law liked me the best and to hear my former wife tell it she was very upset that the marriage didn’t last.  She even prayed for it to somehow be made better, not because she wanted her daughter to be happy (although she no doubt did), but because she wanted ME around.

    The punchline:  The reason she stated that she liked me so much was that I talked to her instead of treating her like a looney fundie (which surprised me, because that’s exactly how I see her).  Even many of those in her church didn’t give her that.  So, to get the respect she felt she deserved, she had to look OUTSIDE her church to someone who is on his way to Hell for his lack of belief.

    I don’t know about you, but I find that hysterical.  She thinks I’m going to hell and I think she’s ignorant and foolish, but she’s the only fundie I can talk to and get more than just rhetoric and I’m the only heretic she can talk to who will listen to her for more than five seconds.  The on-topic point for anyone who missed it is: “Don’t group people. Always take them one by one.”

    note: I’ve never actually asked her if she thinks I’m going to Hell or not and she’s never said.  I just figured it was a given because of the way she see’s her children.

    *something even the pastor she had marry us was shocked to find out… otoh he was kind of an odd man who habitually wore moccasins that were a gift to him from a mob boss… or so I was told.  Anyone who wants to hear the story of my marriage will need to settle in for a LONG one.

  5. Which just gets back to what the Bible told us thousands of years ago: Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?

    I know you (Daryl) probably have overriding reasons to be on here with us non-believers, but seriously why – if you believe in not being yoked (and technically that should be interpreted much more broadly to mean mingling your affairs rather than merely marriage) together with people who aren’t completely in agreement with your beliefs – do you post here? Commonality of the human condition (lonely and just need someone to talk to)? The urge to indulge in the forbidden (sinner)? Because the answer you just might come up with just might be the reason for so many other individuals being reasonably alert and a little leery of Christians.

    Not to say that Christians are the only faith that requires of believers to spread the word or convert others (bring people back to god). Maybe you imagine that you don’t actively thrust your beliefs on those around you, but it is an implied demand placed on you by your belief system. I barely wonder how some people reconcile that. Tolerance (at least in the American society) would seem to suffer greatly from such forces.

  6. Zilch:Well, my significant other is Catholic, and I’m atheist, and that hasn’t been a problem so far.
      …
      Btw- our kids, now 15 and 17, are both atheists.

    Daryl: At the risk of repeating what I’ve already said, that might not seem like a “problem

  7. Nice point, swordsbane.  I had a friend in Berkeley who was a Jesusfreak (self-description) who regarded me as her best friend, and lamented that all the interesting people in her life were going to Hell, and that Heaven would thus be pretty boring.

    That realization, in turn makes her more interesting.  Disagreement is not just competition to see who’s right.  It’s forcing you to defend your ideals, making you refine them so they can stand firmer than before, and if your ideals are torn apart…… you can either be afraid the beliefs you have will crumble in the light of scruitiny or you can embrace the possibility that what replaces them brings you just a little closer to the truth.  You must always face the possibility that you may be wrong, but that being right isn’t as important as the debate itself. 

    Another problem is this: If you go with Daryl’s philosophy, and not marry outside your faith, you are basically saying that the after-life is all important and trying to be happy in this life is pointless.  If two people love each other, sure they want to be together “for all eternity” but just like in the real world, that doesn’t always work out that way.  If two fundies get married and one of them loses their faith and leaves the church, he/she will be going to Hell, but should those to people decide on their marriage because of where their souls are going to be, or weather they still love each other?  Should you not marry someone with a terminal illness because they aren’t going to be around in two or three years, or should they marry and try to make the most of their time?  Getting married or not based on your faith is as stupid as because of your race, height, weight, bank accounts, families.  It’s all the same crap: “It’s not going to be perfect, so why bother?”  I’m a two-time loser.  I have an ex-fiance and now an ex-wife, but I don’t regret any of it.  Even if it doesn’t work out, it wasn’t wasted time.

    I’m pushing 40.  I don’t claim to have discovered the secret of the meaning of life or anything, but if there is one piece of advice I could pass on it would be this: If you have friends, you’re lucky.  If you have one or two good friends, you’re damned lucky.  If you have at least one friend that disagrees with almost everything you agree with and is still your friend, it doesn’t get any better than that.

  8. zilch: Daryl, you don’t know the mother of my kids from Eve, and yet presume to know whether she is a devout Catholic or not.

    Who said anything about your wife, zilch?  I was talking about me.  I would consider my kids growing up atheist as a “problem”, yes.  It’s not a matter of indifference to me.

    Both you and Les have been trying to take my explanation of why I would never consider marrying a non-Christian, and somehow “glue” that explanation onto your own (atheist) lives.  Then you turn around and say, “See, Daryl, your explanation doesn’t work!”  I thought I would offer to explain what this looks like “from the other side”, but if you just want to talk about yourselves, by all means don’t let me stop you.

    Oh, and frankly I found Prague to be a bit too “Disneyland Eastern Europe” for my tastes.  Like a whole city of dollhouses.  Vienna had the sort of understated elegance I admire.

  9. You situation was rather different, Les.  Your daughter’s mother was not in any danger of coming to live with you and your daughter.  There’s an enormous difference between an absentee parent who worships differently (or not at all), and two adults with kids trying to live in the same house, week in and week out.

    Jump to conclusions much there Daryl? Or do you claim to have first hand knowledge of the events I was about to relate despite the fact that you were in an entirely different state at the time these events took place and haven’t hung out regularly with me in over a decade? You don’t know what the situation was so try not to argue against it until you actually know what the hell you’re arguing against.

    Here’s the bit that actually amuses me the most: You were so quick to agree with the parents of my former fiancée that they were right to interfere on the assumption that they and she were practicing Christians, but the truth is they weren’t particularly devout. Neither of her parents attended church regularly and although both considered themselves Christians, they were liberal enough that you’d probably dismiss them as wannabes. As for their daughter, she was a practicing Wiccan. It wasn’t the fact that I wasn’t a Christian that bothered her parents, it was the fact that I was specifically an atheist. They were kind of like the Boy Scouts in that they didn’t care what God(s) I might believe in so long as I believed in a God.

    In terms of our compatibility we had many of the same values and interests so the argument that they were trying to protect her from someone with wildly different values doesn’t wash. It was pure and simple prejudice, much like you’ve demonstrated here. The fact that she believed in several Pagan Gods didn’t bother me in the least and I even participated in a few of her rituals because, as I’ve said before, Pagan’s know how to have fun.

    In contrast to that, my current in-laws are much more religious as several members of the family attend church regularly. My mother-in-law has a habit of listening to contemporary Christian music on Saturday mornings as a form of meditation. It’s not entirely a bad thing to wakeup to as you wouldn’t necessarily realize it’s Christian music if you’re not paying much attention to it (it sounds like ultra-soft soft rock that’ll put you in a coma at too high a dose). I was actually very worried about how this family would react to my atheism, but they’ve been easily the most open and accepting folks I’ve ever had the pleasure to deal with. The big difference is that these folks have had a lot of exposure to folks with different beliefs including more than a few atheists. The prejudice that was present in the family of my previous fiancée was absent from this one.

    Anyway, contrary to what Daryl thinks, Courtney didn’t have the benefit of two parents in the home until she came to live with me because at the same time that she moved in so did Anne. In the 8 years that Courtney lived with her mother she was exposed to several different sects of Christianity along with many churches as the two of them moved around quite often. At the time they moved in Anne was also attending church regularly and considered herself a Christian, though an admittedly moderate one. After we settled in together the two of them started attending church together on a regular basis.

    I didn’t have a problem with this, but not because I didn’t consider religion to be a “big deal” to make a fuss over as Daryl suggests. In fact, I actively encouraged them to go to church if that’s what they really wanted to do. It was, after all, my growing involvement with my church that eventually started me down the path away from belief. The worst thing I could do is pitch a fit about their religious beliefs or try to discourage them.

    I think we’d been a full family for around a year and a half when Courtney had her first discussion with Anne about my atheism. Interestingly enough it wasn’t so much the idea that I might be hell bound that captured Courtney’s attention as much as the idea that she and Anne were “right” and I was “wrong.” As I recall it went something along the lines of:

    Courtney: Dad doesn’t believe in God?
    Anne: That’s right.
    Courtney: But you do?
    Anne: Yes.
    Courtney: So Dad’s wrong, right?
    Anne: Not necessarily, he just thinks differently.

    Now for a kid who had been exposed to the black and white thinking of various Christian churches all of her life it was a bit of a struggle to get her head around the idea that I didn’t believe in God and wasn’t necessarily wrong about it. Anne eventually explained to her that, yes, from her point of view I could be said to be wrong, but that’s only her belief and not necessarily a fact. She could also be wrong and as such she had to respect my right to hold a different opinion on the issue. This was probably one of the first times Courtney was exposed to the concept of agreeing to disagree.

    Over the course of the next several years Courtney ended up having a lot of conversations about belief and God and other related issues with both Anne and myself and for quite some time the two of them remained fairly active Christians. I did my best to indicate that I had no desire to discourage their belief if it was important to them, but I also answered questions posed to me honestly if it was clear that’s what they wanted from me.

    These days Anne has shifted her religious viewpoint quite a bit and is currently trying to decide on if she’s a Deist or an agnostic. Courtney has, as of late, begun to think of herself as an atheist, but I’m not sure how sincere her viewpoint really is and I’ve encouraged her not to make declarations she’s not entirely certain about. I make a point of the possibility that I could be wrong and it’s a very personal decision that each of us has to make for ourselves. As such she still occasionally attends church functions with her grandfather or friends
    and she’s encouraged to read a number of different religious and secular texts.

    From where I’m standing this conversation among a newly formed family should’ve been a lot more difficult than it was simply because we were still getting our footing on how to be a family as compared to a situation like the one Daryl has been imagining where, if he had married an atheist and managed to maintain the marriage up until the point that his kids were old enough to question her lack of belief, you’d think they’d have had enough time to figure out how to address the issue in an intellectually honest manner that wouldn’t give their kids nightmares.

    In my opinion the fact that Daryl feels such an honest and reasonable answer would be beyond his ability even after several years of a successful marriage is indicative of the detrimental effect his religion has on his intelligence. It seems as though it has an almost corrosive effect on reason and the ability to think critically and that’s my biggest problem with it. If it didn’t turn so many of it’s followers into idiots I’d largely be fine with it.

  10. Double dipping as several replies came in while I was typing up the previous one. Daryl writes…

    Who said anything about your wife, zilch?  I was talking about me.  I would consider my kids growing up atheist as a “problem

  11. It seems most Americans believe that diversity is fine, as long as every one shares a common ‘core’ of values that make them trustworthy—and in America, that ‘core’ has historically been religious,

  12. Ok, Kysstfafm.  We need to talk.

    I think it’s time for you to admit, to yourself, that you have an underlining problem.  The first step to getting help is admitting you have a problem.

    Kysstfafm:seriously why do you post here?

    If nothing else because I like to keep in touch with Les, and he never visits my message board.  tongue laugh

    Kysstfafm: Commonality of the human condition (lonely and just need someone to talk to)? The urge to indulge in the forbidden (sinner)?

    There’s nothing “forbidden” about keeping company with sinners.  If there were, I would be lonely indeed: being a sinner, I would not even be able to keep myself company.

    If you’re going to presume to speak for Christianity, you should start by learning.  Let’s see what Jesus thought about this exact question:

    Luke 5: Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were at table with them.

    The Pharisees and their scribes complained to his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”

    Jesus said to them in reply, “Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do.  I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.”

    Which is not to imply that I come to SEB to proselytize: this is Les’ board, and that’s not what he set it up for.  When you’re in someone else’s virtual house, you have to respect their rules.  But your assertion that good Christians only keep company with other Christians is not only incorrect, it is in diametric opposition to what the Bible teaches: Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations.

  13. Let’s see what Jesus thought about this exact question:

    The Pharisees and their scribes complained to his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?

  14. But your assertion that good Christians only keep company with other Christians is not only incorrect, it is in diametric opposition to what the Bible teaches: Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations.

    I see, yes, and when will this “making your disciples of all nations” take place? And how?

  15. Courtney: Dad doesn’t believe in God?
    Anne: That’s right.
    Courtney: But you do?
    Anne: Yes.
    Courtney: So Dad’s wrong, right?
    Anne: Not necessarily, he just thinks differently.

    And that is, basically, the rub Les.  I wouldn’t presume to tell Anne how to raise her children any more than I expect her to tell me.

    There are two ways to answer that question.  (1) “Dad isn’t necessarily wrong, he just thinks differently.  It’s a point Mom and Dad don’t agree on.” -or- (2) “Yes, Dad is wrong.  He has hardened his heart against God; he is dead in his sins.”

    I submit that someone who feels obligated to give answer number (2) is going to have a very hard time being married to an atheist, a Muslim, a Buddhist, and so forth.  Do you agree?

    Honestly it seems we’re talking past each other at this point.  I was trying to explain why I would find it difficult or impossible to be married to an unbeliever.  Some (many?) Christians might disagree.  Anne and zilch’s wife obviously do.  Speaking for myself, I would give answer (2) in our hypothetical discussion.  Jesus said: He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

    Les: You’ve already made your problems with atheists quite clear in the past.

    I’ve said it before, I don’t have a “problem” with atheists.  With the exception of Justin, every one of my friends, most of my family, and most of my wife’s family haven’t seen the inside of a church since who-even-knows-when.  Most of them since “ever”.

    Many atheists look at the messages in the Bible and assume that Christians have some sort of “problem” with them.  I can’t speak for all Christians but I can speak for myself, and I’m quite fond of many atheists.

    If you want to experience people who have a problem with atheism, take a look at places like Iran, Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia.  Over there, your daughter’s “crisis of faith” could get her beheaded.

  16. Ok, Kysstfafm.  We need to talk.

    I think it’s time for you to admit, to yourself, that you have an underlining problem.  The first step to getting help is admitting you have a problem.

    Well, much regrets to touch such an intolerant chord with Daryl, but I must suggest that if my use of underlines offends him that he reach back into his book for a good quote (“good book,” whoa nelly ):

    If your eye offend thee, pluck it out.

    But perhaps instead he is trying to suggest the following Jesus-advice:

    Don’t worry about the speck in someone else’s eye, until you remove the log from yours.

    Calm down or you will blow a gasket. Even without being a disciple of Christ, I could offer up the same advice going back the other way.

    Daryl may now view me in a sufficiently negative light to want to “lash out,” forgetting his Christian duty:

    But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also

    Daryl, am I an evil person? Because I question? Because I do not blindly believe? Because I will sometimes challenge fallacious thinking posted within my reach? [facetious]Surely not because, horrors, I use underlines?[/facetious] Hopefully Daryl will forgive me – in truth – rather than continue to plead [facetious]Christianity[/facetious].

  17. Daryl: 5. Where to live. I’d like to live in a socially conservative area.  This makes it easier for my children to grow up around other Christian children.  When it comes time for them to look for husbands and wives, they will need ready access to a large number of other Christians from which to select a spouse.  A non-Christian wife might resent living in the Bible Belt for the sake of my religion.
    ………………
    later:
    But your assertion that good Christians only keep company with other Christians is not only incorrect, it is in diametric opposition to what the Bible teaches: Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations.

    So which is it?  Live amongst the heathens, or hole up with the Christians?

    If I take this statement to mean you haven’t lived in a conservative area:

    I’d like to live in a socially conservative area.

    then I could forgive this statement:

    Many atheists look at the messages in the Bible and assume that Christians have some sort of “problem

  18. Courtney: So Dad’s wrong, right?
    Anne: Not necessarily, he just thinks differently.

    Anne believes that truth is relative to each person (at least in this case). That makes it a lot easier to make a marriage between a Christian and an atheist work. But it also means that you can not hold up your own marriage as an example of how to make a mixed marriage work.

    However, your attempt to do so is a good example of how atheism can cloud your thinking. wink

  19. I submit that someone who feels obligated to give answer number (2) is going to have a very hard time being married to an atheist, a Muslim, a Buddhist, and so forth.  Do you agree?

    I would submit that anyone who uses answer number 2 wouldn’t have married an atheist in the first place so it’s a moot point. Got any other blinding flashes of the obvious for us?

    Honestly it seems we’re talking past each other at this point.  I was trying to explain why I would find it difficult or impossible to be married to an unbeliever.

    Dude, seriously, I think we figured that one out a long time ago. No one here has suggested that you, personally, should get married to an atheist.

    Give us some credit, we’re smart enough to realize why folks who are as dyed-in-the-wool believers as you are may have a hard time trying to be married to an atheist and none of us would suggest such a person should attempt such a feat unless they’re a masochist.

    Some (many?) Christians might disagree.  Anne and zilch’s wife obviously do.  Speaking for myself, I would give answer (2) in our hypothetical discussion.  Jesus said: He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

    Yeah, most of us have read the Bible quite a bit. We know what Jesus supposedly said. That particular passage is one of many that bother me. It doesn’t seem like the sort of thing a truly benevolent deity would say, but that’s Christian love for ya.

    If you want to experience people who have a problem with atheism, take a look at places like Iran, Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia.  Over there, your daughter’s “crisis of faith

  20. Justin sneaks in a reply…

    Anne believes that truth is relative to each person (at least in this case). That makes it a lot easier to make a marriage between a Christian and an atheist work. But it also means that you can not hold up your own marriage as an example of how to make a mixed marriage work.

    It has little to do with Anne’s view on the relativity of truth as much as it does her acknowledgment that I have a right to make that determination for myself. She actually has a very strong sense of objective truth and we have had conflicts over it in the past, but we can also agree to disagree.

    And I have no intention of holding up my own marriage as an example of how to make a mixed marriage work. It’s simply illustrative of the fact that a believer and a non-believer can get along in a marriage regardless of their differing views on the issue of religion. How we make it work may or may not be the best means of doing so.

    However, your attempt to do so is a good example of how atheism can cloud your thinking.

    Not at all. Atheism doesn’t say a damned thing about how one should live their life, unlike Christianity, so there’s nothing inherent in it to cloud my thinking about the best way to make a marriage work. My thinking may be wrong on any of a number of topics, but not because it’s being influenced by any supposed precepts or tenets required by atheism. The same can’t be said of Christianity.

  21. Sometimes Daryl Cantrell humors me. Sometimes he infuriates me. Sometimes he manages to do both with one sentence. But you know, for all the shit he takes here (which he gives as good as he gets), he doesn’t go running away, crying like a little girl, or comparably, the trumped thumper fundie. Got to respect that. Besides, even if it is merely a reason for you to write reality out loud, Daryl provides a valuable contribution. (Look at the debates he manages to spark. hmmm  )

    Just sayin’. . . And subscribing to the thread.

    If this pops up twice: Sorry. The first just disappeared.

  22. well, since everyone else seems to have slid in two cents about Daryl, with the exception of sexuality I find his views as rational and meditative as his religion allows.

    In general I think he’s a respectable intellectual.

  23. If a child could somehow be raised to the age of, say 16, free of any religious indoctrination, free of messages like “we are all born sinners”, “disbelievers go to hell”, “God requires your adoration” etc, would it be more or less likely that the child would become a devout believer once s/he was given the Bible to read?

    Many, like Daryl, are frothing at the mouth to pass on their heavy beliefs to their innocent, naive children, but is that fair? Not to me. To me it’s child abuse.

    If you don’t like seeing young children exposed to sex and violence, why expose them to the most violent and sexually-themed book in existence? Why hang such an albatross around their necks?

    There is time enough to learn of death, betrayal, sin, greed and blackmail. Let them learn of love, acceptance, hope and benevolence first. Give them time to see the wonders in life before you burden them with the concept of eternal damnation.

    Unless, of course, you just enjoy scaring little children.

  24. Justice: Sometimes Daryl Cantrell humors me. Sometimes he infuriates me. Sometimes he manages to do both with one sentence. But you know, for all the shit he takes here (which he gives as good as he gets), he doesn’t go running away, crying like a little girl, or comparably, the trumped thumper fundie.

    Actually, I’ve noticed that Daryl typically will write an empassioned reply to a topic or comment that somehow strikes a nerve with him, but then he will often simply disappear without a word. He’s clearly a fundie, yet unlike other visiting fundies he doesn’t seem interested in proselytizing so much as merely whining and ranting.

    I see Justin—the poor man’s Daryl—has decided to join the party. Haven’t seen him in a while, have we?

  25. Sadie said:

    What about feminist, hippie, Pagan/Wiccan, childless-by-choice, bisexual young women such as myself? I’ve gotta be pretty low on the respectability and trustworthiness meters as far as most Americans are concerned (and damn proud of it).

    It may put you lower on the respectability meter, but it puts you way up on the list of people I’m likely to invite to a party at our lakeside cottage.

  26. It may put you lower on the respectability meter, but it puts you way up on the list of people I’m likely to invite to a party at our lakeside cottage.

    Well, people have said I’m the life of the party, but I think that would be a more fitting attribute for John, who’s actually set a host’s rug on fire before (accidentally, of course).  smile

  27. My daughter turned nine months old today.  A problem like this is not going to come up anytime soon, if ever.
    However, I have to admit I would do the same thing if she wanted to marry an unbeliever one day.  Not because I personally have anything against atheists and pagans (my daily lunch buddies are a Hindu and an agnostic/lapsed Roman Catholic).  I would try to talk her out of the idea because a Christian marrying an non-Christian is just asking for trouble.

    What I find interesting, Daryll, is that you don’t even consider the possibility that your child may grow up to be an atheist herself. Most of the non-believers I know, myself included, come from religous parents. We just happen to have this odd facility for critical thinking….

  28. It’s this kind of hyper-christianity that got me started thinking about religion. Anything in extremes as well as anything the masses do/think/etc. is something I spend a lot of time pondering over to see how I really feel rather than blindly following.

    I hope that makes sense. I’m just very skeptical of fanaticism over anything.

  29. I would try to talk her out of the idea because a Christian marrying an non-Christian is just asking for trouble.

    Trouble for whom?

    I think it’s trouble only if your faith is so shaky that you can’t tolerate any dissent, or if your faith is so cruel that it would cause you to reject your wife and/or children for its sake.

  30. I should have subscribed to this thread earlier!

    I have not found any reliable external marker for trustworthiness, but professed atheism in a mature adult is a sign of someone who is willing to be distrusted for his honest opinion.

    Daryl, I don’t think religion is ‘unimportant’, but neither is heroin addiction.

    (Sorry if this double-posts – last attempt vanished)

  31. Boy howdy did I miss a lot.  Order of business number one: this

    : Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.

    has been improperly transcribed.  Properly transcribed it means “Do not be yolked….”  Properly interpreted it means after you bang that atheist, don’t be fixing him/her breakfast or having breakfast or any of that sort of thing.

    As to this:

    GM said: It’s a terrible idea, Daryl, especially since your children will be terrified later in life if they ever have a doubt about their faith. 

    GM got any solid evidence of this other than anecdotal?  My money says no.

  32. GM got any solid evidence of this other than anecdotal?  My money says no.

    Some things just make intuitive sense, Consi. It’s not a given, to be sure, but I think it’s a good guess that, were the offspring of a fundamentalist, “hellfire-and-brimstone”-spouting parent to discover that she/he did not share her/his parents’ religious convictions, fear or at least insecurity could be expected to develop on the child’s part.

  33. Well, this thread seems to be headed the usual way for discussions of religion: towards a food fight, or a party, or both.  Good to see you again, KPG!

    Well, people have said I’m the life of the party, but I think that would be a more fitting attribute for John, who’s actually set a host’s rug on fire before (accidentally, of course).

    Since you brought it up, Sadie, I guess this is the right place for a similar story, which also ties in religion.  The first Christmas I spent in Vienna, Barbara’s parents invited us over.  They had a beautiful Christmas (or Saturnalia- another thread) tree, decorated with lovely handblown ornaments.  No electric lights- real candles.  Typical uptight American that I am, I expressed concern: candles on trees were forbidden in California; weren’t they worried about fire?

    They laughed indulgently, and pointed to the bucket of water standing nearby, saying that they’d never even heard of a Christmas tree catching fire.  So they lit the candles, and it did look gorgeous- until it caught fire.  We managed to put it out pretty quickly, but not before the tree and a number of presents were destroyed, after which I laughed my ass off.

    However, that hasn’t stopped us from putting candles on our tree every year since-  we’re just a mite more careful about placement, and no more accidents have happened.  The bucket of water is still standing nearby.  Btw- inspired by PZ Myers at Pharygula, our last tree was a Cephalopodmas tree, graced by a pipecleaner octupus made by my son Adam.  Pride of place at the top, however, was still given to the angel, now over a hundred years old, we got from my grandmother.  Thus peace is kept in a household of believers and nonbelievers.

  34. GM got any solid evidence of this other than anecdotal?  My money says no.

    Come on, Consi, what evidence COULD there be other than anecdotal—people telling the story of how they felt when they started doubting?  I’ve seen it times a-plenty in fundy deconversion stories, but I’m sure no funded (heh) studies have been done.

    Fine, no yolking with unbelievers—so make ‘em an egg-white omelet.  Who knew the Bible was so health-conscious?

  35. Sadie: Actually, I’ve noticed that Daryl typically will write an empassioned reply to a topic or comment that somehow strikes a nerve with him, but then he will often simply disappear without a word.

    I was planning not to post on this topic again, but I’ll respond to this.

    On Les’ board, I’m a Christian swimming in a sea of atheists.  I’m also a conservative surrounded by many, many liberals.  It doesn’t bother me, but part of being in the tiny minority on a message board is accepting two basic facts:

    1. You will never, ever, ever, ever get the last word in.

    2. You will not be able to respond to everything people say, or even the stuff specifically directed at you.

    It’s simple math.  Every time Justin or I post, 5 or 10 people will reply.  I can either spend the rest of my earthly life posting on this thread and responding to people, or I can say what I think is important and then move on.

    PS: Thanks for the kind words, Justice and arc_legion.  *sniff!*

  36. Come on, Consi, what evidence COULD there be other than anecdotal

    One of those study thingamajiggers you mention:

    but I’m sure no…studies have been done.

  37. On Les’ board, I’m a Christian swimming in a sea of atheists.  I’m also a conservative surrounded by many, many liberals.  It doesn’t bother me, but part of being in the tiny minority on a message board is accepting two basic facts:

    1. You will never, ever, ever, ever get the last word in.

    2. You will not be able to respond to everything people say, or even the stuff specifically directed at you.

    I can’t be alone in my appreciation of your “acceptance,” since it makes it far less likely that your participation in a thread will degrade into nothing more than lobbing ad hominem attacks at those you disagree with.

    In another forum I visit, there’s one fundamentalist Christian guy who apparently cannot engage in any debate without ultimately resorting to calling people who disagree with him “gay,” “immoral,” or “baby-killers.”  It’s really annoying, and makes it very difficult to justify even attempting to understand any point he might try to argue.  People have been telling him for years that he does his “side” a disservice by acting like such an asshole that he’s alienating those it it would appear he’s trying to reach, but it doesn’t seem to faze him in the least.

    So, FWIW, thanks for not being that kind of asshole.  wink  I may disagree with you about most everything, but I respect your restraint and maturity in arguing with us.

  38. Well, Daryl, you recognize that posting on a board whose members typically hold views diametrically opposed to your own involves certain risks or guarantees (i.e. not getting the “last word” in). Aware of this fact, you still do occasionally post here. That indicates guts on your part (or perhaps sado-masochism wink).

    I rarely post on right-wing and/or religious blogs and forums (or is that fora?) simply because I have neither the patience nor the time to respond to every post that will inevitably be directed at me. I have on occasion commented at
    The Trommetter Times, however.

    I haven’t always had a lot of patience with you in the past (okay, I’ve been downright hostile with you often), but I will say this: your comments (even or perhaps especially at their most loony) always generate discussion, be it thoughtful, enraged, or both. Anything that gets a little action going around here is ultimately appreciated.

  39. The distrust of those who eschew the religious Kool-Aid can reach a quote horrible conclusion, as in this post over at UTI: Damned Activist Judges.  It seems a woman has lost all parental rights because of her involvement in a group that mocks religion.  Apparently no hint of ‘other’ abuse, just irreligion.

  40. Most unbelievers want few kids, or none at all.  Most liberals will have no kids or one kid.  A few have two kids.  Conservative, religious people overwhelmingly favor large families.  Just speaking for myself, I’d like to have 4-6 kids plus some adoptions.  This isn’t an issue which a couple can compromise on.  You can’t “sort of

  41. You said it, Hussar.  Of course, population explosions can be dealt with in more or less painful ways.  Birth control is rather less painful, war and famine (a good contempory example is Rwanda) rather more so.  Given the limited carrying capacity of the earth, despite the “green revolution”, it behooves us to try to help societies- our own, and others- to reach that fifth stage.  Religion is, unfortunately, often a big handicap in changing minds about family size.

  42. I’m an atheist (former Christian), but honestly, I kind of agree with this, at least regarding trustworthiness.

    If I had to choose between a car repair shop run by a nice meek Christian and one run by an atheist, I’d choose the Christian. You know they’re going to be more honest and not rip you off. I think their beliefs are idiotic, but their beliefs do cause them much guilt when they’re dishonest, while godless atheists would find it easier to rationalize screwing someone over.

    On the other hand, the frothingly angry Republican-style Christian, would be *expected* to rip me off if he found out I’m an atheist, and maybe sabotage my car. So I guess it depends…

  43. Hmm wrote:

    If I had to choose between a car repair shop run by a nice meek Christian and one run by an atheist, I’d choose the Christian. You know they’re going to be more honest and not rip you off.

    That’s the popular assumption, but reality doesn’t bear that out. In fact there’s really nothing about being a Christian that makes someone more likely to be honest as Christians are just as likely to rationalize dishonesty as anyone else. One need only pay attention to the news to see the truth of that. I mean, if they’re willing to lie to get a law passed then there’s no reason they won’t lie to you to sell you a car.

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