Saturday, September 10, 2011

Would you date an atheist?

Quite good, quite good. I was going to say that this sort of thing seems less of a problem in Britain than it is in the US, but then it occurred to me that my own sister would certainly never consider dating an atheist.  And I thought about some of the religious people I know – mostly Catholics and Muslims– who I’m sure would be horrified if their children dated atheists.

Is this the same thing?  I get the impression that it is probably not.  My sister would not date an atheist, but I don’t think she hates and fears us: I think she’s just can’t imagine sharing her life with someone who doesn’t share her beliefs.  Those Catholics (and others) would probably react the same way to anyone who wasn’t a Catholic, rather than picking on atheists in general.  Some might even be more prejudiced against Protestants or Muslims (and vice versa) than against atheists. 

Something slightly different seems to be the case in the US.  A lot of people really seem to hate atheists because they are atheists rather than because they are not specifically a member of their own group.  In fact, people who only nominally ally themselves with a particular religious group hate and distrust atheists.  These people don’t go to church, they spend only a few moments of their lives thinking about any or all gods.  They are pretty close to being atheist in practice, but they nevertheless hate atheists in principle.

I’m not saying that the situation here in the UK is anything other than tedious and pathetic.  But it does seem qualitatively different and quantitatively better than the situation in the US.  Let’s hope it keeps going in the right direction.

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