By Herb Silverman
March 4, 2013
Many atheists, myself included, are offended by what we view as unwarranted antagonism toward atheists. I’ve participated in a number of debates on topics like “Can we be moral without a belief in God?” In these debates, I try to change stereotypical opinions that atheists are inherently immoral and untrustworthy. It’s sad that debates like this even take place in the twenty-first century. It would be unthinkable to see a debate in this country on “Can a Jew be moral?” or “Can a Catholic be moral?”
For decades, Gallup has asked people if they would vote for a generally well-qualified person for president who happens to be Catholic, black, Jew, atheist, woman, Mormon, Muslim, or gay. While our country is becoming more tolerant toward all these groups, atheists remain consistently at the bottom of the approval list. The good news is that “only” 43 percent of those polled in 2012 said they would vote against an atheist, the first time the percentage has fallen below 50 percent.
We are fortunate that our secular Constitution makes no mention of any gods and guarantees freedom of religion. Nevertheless, many politicians fail to understand that religious freedom includes the freedom not to believe.
To read the rest of this Washington Post On Faith piece, click here.
Herb Silverman is founder and President Emeritus of the Secular Coalition for America, AHA board member, and author of Candidate Without a Prayer: An Autobiography of a Jewish Atheist in the Bible Belt.