Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Atheism Is a Civil Rights Issue

Numerous commenters on Nisbet's post have pointed out the many ways in which atheism is a civil rights issue. There are the atheist parents who are denied custody of their children because of their atheism; state constitutions that officially deny atheists the right to hold public office (now unenforceable, but the discriminatory language has never been removed); religious language in official affirmations like the Pledge of Allegiance that infringes on atheist parents' rights to raise their children as they see fit; government programs that take atheists' tax dollars and use them to pay for programs of religious indoctrination; and more. And then there are the significant pluralities, if not majorities in some cases, who consider atheists to be the least trustworthy group in America and would not vote for atheists for public office. These examples show Nisbet's claims to be unfounded in reality, and he has chosen to ignore them rather than make any effort to address them.

It is now obvious that what Nisbet is demanding is that atheists be silent and not speak our minds. That isn't going to happen. I'm happy to see a vigorous, thriving atheist community take shape, and we will continue to say exactly what we think. Nisbet can sputter and complain about this to his heart's content, but it will not silence us; it will only show that his position is without worth or value and deserves no further consideration. Meanwhile, we who are genuinely concerned with both the civil rights and the public image of nonbelievers can and will press ahead in the vital effort to defend both.

daylightatheism.org, 07 July 2007

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