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Old 12-11-2013, 12:04 PM
 
Location: Portland, Oregon
2,438 posts, read 4,231,584 times
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The Last Taboo - Jennifer Michael Hecht - POLITICO Magazine

"... wondering why a man who served 16 terms in Congress and who bravely came out as gay all the way back in 1987 felt the need to hide his atheism until he was out of office. Was it really harder to come out as an atheist politician in 2013 than as a gay one 25 years ago?

Incredibly, the answer might be yes. For starters, consider that there is not a single self-described atheist in Congress today. Not one."

More discussion of the article: America's last political taboo | MetaFilter
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Old 12-11-2013, 12:57 PM
 
Location: Somewhere out there.
6,881 posts, read 3,799,289 times
Reputation: 4623
This is crazy. What the hell is the matter with this country?




I think I've told this story before on here but might as well give it another go:

Been living here just over 2 years now.
The first year I made really good friends with a mom of my daughters friend. We saw each other all the time, really hit it off. We never talked about religion really as it just never came up in the conversation although I knew she was Christian and which church she attended every Sunday.
One day I just sort of mentioned in passing that I was an atheist - never even occurred to me it would be a problem - I can't even remember the context of the conversation.
Well big mistake. Suddenly she turned very cold and from then on in, god was brought into the conversation at what seemed to be every opportunity. How we should be thankful that god made these strawberries so red, how god does this and how god does that in a way that had never even been mentioned before, as though trying to rub it in.

I told my husband and his reaction was: "WHAT? you never tell people you are an atheist here. People get really offended by that". ...Huh?
He's spent a lot of time in America - worked between the UK and America for 15 years so I guess he thought I was really naive.

I was really shocked that a person who seemed to like you would suddenly turn sour the minute you say you are an atheist even though you are quite obviously the same person. Suffice to say I hardly see this lady nowadays although our kids are still friends. I don't need that kind of pettiness.

It's taken me a while to appreciate that there really is this odd undercurrent here. And I'm in California which is supposed to be this liberal state.

These days I'm more careful about what I reveal to whom. There are lots of people who know I am atheist now, but I'm a lot more choosy about who I reveal it to. I'd have never felt that way back home, nobody cares what you are.

Last edited by Cruithne; 12-11-2013 at 02:07 PM..
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Old 12-11-2013, 01:46 PM
 
Location: Type 0.7 Kardashev
10,577 posts, read 7,293,753 times
Reputation: 37479
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Allen View Post
The Last Taboo - Jennifer Michael Hecht - POLITICO Magazine

"... wondering why a man who served 16 terms in Congress and who bravely came out as gay all the way back in 1987 felt the need to hide his atheism until he was out of office. Was it really harder to come out as an atheist politician in 2013 than as a gay one 25 years ago?

Incredibly, the answer might be yes. For starters, consider that there is not a single self-described atheist in Congress today. Not one."

More discussion of the article: America's last political taboo | MetaFilter
Speaking as a straight atheist, while I think it may be more politically problematic being an atheist than being gay, I would not diminish the discrimination gays face by suggesting that everyday life is more difficult, in general, for atheists than gays. Atheism is more or less invisible. Who knows what one believes? Many believers are not active in church, and who really knows where someone goes to church? And many believers do not attend church - there is often no outward manifestation of religious belief. But for someone who is gay to go about life with no outward manifestations of being gay, they essentially have to hide that fact, leaving a bitter choice of the closet or facing the discrimination that comes the way of gays.

As for politicians, it would be fascinating to know just how many of them are really atheists, and which ones.

Excellent article! Thanks for posting it!
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Old 12-11-2013, 03:00 PM
 
9,889 posts, read 6,758,389 times
Reputation: 2488
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cruithne View Post
This is crazy. What the hell is the matter with this country?




I think I've told this story before on here but might as well give it another go:

Been living here just over 2 years now.
The first year I made really good friends with a mom of my daughters friend. We saw each other all the time, really hit it off. We never talked about religion really as it just never came up in the conversation although I knew she was Christian and which church she attended every Sunday.
One day I just sort of mentioned in passing that I was an atheist - never even occurred to me it would be a problem - I can't even remember the context of the conversation.
Well big mistake. Suddenly she turned very cold and from then on in, god was brought into the conversation at what seemed to be every opportunity. How we should be thankful that god made these strawberries so red, how god does this and how god does that in a way that had never even been mentioned before, as though trying to rub it in.

I told my husband and his reaction was: "WHAT? you never tell people you are an atheist here. People get really offended by that". ...Huh?
He's spent a lot of time in America - worked between the UK and America for 15 years so I guess he thought I was really naive.

I was really shocked that a person who seemed to like you would suddenly turn sour the minute you say you are an atheist even though you are quite obviously the same person. Suffice to say I hardly see this lady nowadays although our kids are still friends. I don't need that kind of pettiness.

It's taken me a while to appreciate that there really is this odd undercurrent here. And I'm in California which is supposed to be this liberal state.

These days I'm more careful about what I reveal to whom. There are lots of people who know I am atheist now, but I'm a lot more choosy about who I reveal it to. I'd have never felt that way back home, nobody cares what you are.
It is not about your atheism. This is about her ignorance. In many places you would have been treated the same if you have stated you are a Mormon or a Catholic. It is all about fear of the unknown. They fail to realize that atheists are no different than anyone else.
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Old 12-11-2013, 03:08 PM
 
Location: SGV, CA
816 posts, read 1,558,787 times
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There was a study done a few years ago about which demographic was the least trusted in America. It was atheists by a considerable margin, even more than muslims, homosexuals or blacks.
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Old 12-11-2013, 03:42 PM
 
16,110 posts, read 17,935,404 times
Reputation: 15912
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Allen View Post

Incredibly, the answer might be yes. For starters, consider that there is not a single self-described atheist in Congress today. Not one."
There was ONE until 2012.

Congressman Pete Stark - California 15th District - Fighting For Us

and

My take: 'Atheist' isn

Quote:
Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona, was sworn in a few days ago without a Bible, and she is the first member of Congress to openly describe her religious affiliation as “none.” Although 10 other members don’t specify a religious affiliation — up from six members in the previous Congress — Sinema is the only to officially declare “none.
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Old 12-11-2013, 04:13 PM
Status: "Watching America made small." (set 4 days ago)
 
Location: Ontario, Canada
25,914 posts, read 13,469,145 times
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Surprising and sad.

I don't think Canadians can feel overly smug on this one either. I can't think of a Canuck politico who declared s/he was an atheist either.

But we're awash in governmental gays.

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Old 12-11-2013, 04:31 PM
 
Location: Portland, Oregon
2,438 posts, read 4,231,584 times
Reputation: 2627
Rep. Sinema is discussed on page 3 of the linked article. She takes pains to avoid identifying as atheist. Or theist, for that matter.
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Old 12-11-2013, 11:40 PM
 
540 posts, read 571,392 times
Reputation: 749
From the article:
Quote:
But Frank also told me he avoids the term “atheist” because people don’t like it. “Atheist is a harsh word,” he said. “It sounds like a repudiation to people—it sounds aggressive.”
That's an interesting point. Perhaps the 'militant' atheists have caused people to associate the word atheist with angry, hostile, anti-religion folks (which some atheists are, and some aren't). I wonder if the polls referenced in the article asking if people would trust a qualified gay or atheist candidate would come out differently if they used "nonbeliever" or "secular" or "non-affiliated" instead.

I'm in California, too, and I've learned not to mention atheism. I've gotten the response from both friends, roommates, and teachers. In college I went the soft route of "oh, I'm undeclared" in response to people asking about my religion, and it came back to me as "Oh, you're an atheist" in a rather disappointed, disgruntled tone.
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Old 12-12-2013, 12:11 AM
 
Location: City-Data Forum
7,945 posts, read 4,751,950 times
Reputation: 1333
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cruithne View Post
This is crazy. What the hell is the matter with this country?




I think I've told this story before on here but might as well give it another go:

Been living here just over 2 years now.
The first year I made really good friends with a mom of my daughters friend. We saw each other all the time, really hit it off. We never talked about religion really as it just never came up in the conversation although I knew she was Christian and which church she attended every Sunday.
One day I just sort of mentioned in passing that I was an atheist - never even occurred to me it would be a problem - I can't even remember the context of the conversation.
Well big mistake. Suddenly she turned very cold and from then on in, god was brought into the conversation at what seemed to be every opportunity. How we should be thankful that god made these strawberries so red, how god does this and how god does that in a way that had never even been mentioned before, as though trying to rub it in.

I told my husband and his reaction was: "WHAT? you never tell people you are an atheist here. People get really offended by that". ...Huh?
He's spent a lot of time in America - worked between the UK and America for 15 years so I guess he thought I was really naive.

I was really shocked that a person who seemed to like you would suddenly turn sour the minute you say you are an atheist even though you are quite obviously the same person. Suffice to say I hardly see this lady nowadays although our kids are still friends. I don't need that kind of pettiness.

It's taken me a while to appreciate that there really is this odd undercurrent here. And I'm in California which is supposed to be this liberal state.

These days I'm more careful about what I reveal to whom. There are lots of people who know I am atheist now, but I'm a lot more choosy about who I reveal it to. I'd have never felt that way back home, nobody cares what you are.
gay pride is what stopped it. Gays stopped hiding and started showing they were humans who deserved rights too (plus their suffering due to viral disease and the nongay friends that they made who would openly support gay rights against oppressors that were demonized as hypocrites and over-reactant homophobes). Mention naturalism and the non-existence of god all the time,

"This strawberry's red color reminds me of how evolution shows that nature doesn't need the supernatural to guide it. SO BEAUTIFUL. It's such an over-reaction to think that the Beings of possible Heavens get involved with this fruit and not with starving children. "
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