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The Persecution Of Atheism In America

1453 words - 6 pages

What is atheism? Why would someone be an atheist? Why do people fear and dislike atheism? Simply stated, atheism is the lack of belief in a god or gods. Granted, atheists are each individuals and undoubtedly each of them prescribe [to] many different philosophies on life, politics and morality as do Christians. However, though atheists may choose to gather collectively for whatever purpose, unlike Christianity, atheism is not a belief system. An individual who identifies himself as an atheist is merely stating that he does not believe in [the existence of] god or gods. Atheism, as indicated by its name, is the opposite of theism which is belief in at least one god; to include polytheism ...view middle of the document...

Moreover, the consequences of behaving in contradiction to Christian values or behaving ‘immorally’ involve punishment by god whether it be in this life or the after-life. This philosophy sheds some light on why atheism is feared, despised and misunderstood as well as why atheists are persecuted in America. If there is no god to answer to or no consequences for ‘bad behavior’, why then, would anyone behave in a good moral fashion? What is to prevent deviant behavior, if there is no god? These questions are the main basis for the Christian argument which maintains that atheists are untrustworthy, immoral or amoral, social deviants and therefore lesser human beings. Some have gone as far to say that atheists are unpatriotic, un-American and do not even have the right to be acknowledged as citizens of the United States.
Even one of the greatest early western philosophers, Plato, expressed disgust for atheism, going as far to say that those who commit impious acts may be ‘suffering’ from atheism- as if it were an ailment or disease of some sort. Further, Plato considered atheism dangerous to society and argued that atheists should be punished, even put to death in some cases. This view was also shared by St. Thomas Aquinas, one of the most highly regarded theologians and western philosophers of the Roman Catholic Church, who is quoted as saying: “If forgers and malefactors are put to death by the secular power, there is much more reason for excommunicating and even putting to death one convicted of heresy”. Even John Locke, who was one of the first to present and support modern ideas regarding religious freedom, limited this idea of freedom by arguing that atheists should not be granted full rights of citizenship. What is less surprising is that this notion of ‘godlessness’ as being an inherently subhuman quality was also shared by the Nazi’s; Hitler claimed to have successfully “stamped-out” atheism in a speech he made in 1933. Though it can be said that Hitler is a cliché example of hatred and intolerance, it can also be said that it would be rather sobering to find his company in your entourage of those who share your beliefs.
Currently, there are 8 states in the U.S. that have laws preventing atheists from holding office as an elected official; the following example was taken from Article 19, section 1 of the Arkansas state constitution: “No person who denies the being of a God shall hold any office in the civil departments of this State, nor be competent to testify as a witness in any Court.” Furthermore, there is evidence that atheists may be the most discriminated against group in America. Take for example, a study conducted in 2006 asked 2 questions, the first involved asking citizens whether they felt certain minorities shared their vision of America and the other question asked was ’would you want your child to marry said minority’. In both studies, percentages of approval of atheists were significantly lower than those for black,...

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