Monday, August 29, 2011

Pastor Wants Atheist Registry

Those who do not think that atheists are a persecuted minority in America should really take a look at the recent stunt pulled by an American pastor. Florida pastor Michael Stahl has proposed that a registry be set up to name known atheists and name their place of work or business. The purpose, he says, is to let Christians know where they can preach to them and also to boycott their businesses. Interestingly, it would not include their addresses; more than likely a move to avoid being held responsible for any violence committed against them.

This Christian bigot has compared atheists to the Ku Klux Klan and radical Islamists - groups which more often than not have a religious element to their abhorrent actions. He probably doesn't mean any serious action here, and just wants to cause a stir to feed his narcissistic desires. But it is clear that he sees atheists as the scum of America, and wishes to whip up hatred against them.

Many support this kind of nonsense in America because of the general attitudes towards atheists. While tolerance for minority religious and ethnic groups has generally increased, atheists are still regarded as being separate from what is generally seen as the ideal America. Ironically, Christian America's increased tolerance of other religious groups and an increased solidarity between these groups has strengthened opposition to those who do not believe.

Fundamentalists such as the attention seeking Stahl of course also fiercely oppose competing religions, so it is not the likes of his intolerance that is mainly to blame for the increased discrimination against atheists. Funnily enough, it is the religious moderates and their preaching of tolerance that is mainly to blame. In their rainbow view of the world, it does not matter what you believe, just so long as you do believe. As Sam Harris has pointed out, it is religious moderates who promote faith as a virtue and unquestioned tolerance of it. For those who believe in the supernatural, no matter how ridiculous their claims, they are to be respected and are not to be questioned. It is this poisonous political correctness that binds religious groups of all stripes together and unites them in their opposition to those who see the concept of faith (believing in something for which there is no evidence) as ridiculous.

Faith is not a virtue, and tolerance should only extend to the point where we accept practices that are not harmful. Of course we should not tolerate the bigoted views of Stahl, but it is also about time we stopped tolerating the idiotic and damaging concept of faith. Where evidence is lacking, we should demand it, and not simply let a person off the hook because he or she believes in an imaginary friend whom you need faith in to understand.