mitchellmckain wrote:But then the idea that there is an anti-atheist sentiment in the United States seemed pretty bizarre to me too. But then I had to admit that there very well could be areas in the United States where there is a great deal of social hostility towards atheists.
Yes, I can personally guarantee there is such hatred of atheists in the deep South for certain, going at least as far west as Texas. Northerneastern and western states are mostly ambivalent to supportive. I'm not sure about states in the middle of the US, but from my interactions with people, I'd say they are mostly tolerant. In the South you are far better off never admitting to being anything but a god-fearing Christian. Any water cooler chat can easily descend into a rant about "god-haters" (code for anyone who isn't a god-fearing Christian/Republican.) In fact, I've noticed that in almost any conversation with Southerners the word, church, god or Jesus will arise if the conversation goes longer than sixty seconds.
On the other hand, the precise words in the OP were "growing anti-Christian sentiment", and I think the fact is that however small such a sentiment might be, there is an anti-Christian sentiment and it is growing. BUT I think perhaps the real question might be whether that growing anti-Christian sentiment is deserved.
Well, the post title
didn't refer to a "growing" trend, but he did in the body of his post. I missed that before. And I do agree because with the rise of religious diversity and the increasing confidence of the non-religious, Christianity is being called out on many of the privileged fronts it has enjoyed for so long. In some cases these are actual abuses, but in many cases these are simply privileges that Christians have come to feel entitled to because, well "it's a Christian country", as they will say. I'll offer an example. I read about a California town where for decades, different churches have been constructing religious Christmas decorations in public parks. They were properly applying for permits so there was nothing illegitimate. But this year, non-religious groups also applied and acquired most of the sites and constructed secular or even anti-religious slogans and messages. Needless to say, this has infuriated many in the community, but again, everything was done legally, so there was no impropriety. But it's just interesting that these churches see these public parks as something they are entitled to exploit to promote their religious message. This example is one that Fox News would proudly trumpet as a case of anti-Christianity when I don't really see it that way at all. I see it as secular groups trying to dampen an already overwhelming blanket of religious propaganda. I think when you consider the vastness of the religious footprint in America, it only seems reasonable that there are people who would desperately love to see a reduction of this, but have no interest in destroying the institutions of Christianity itself. The two objectives are vastly different, but according to Fox News they are one and the same.
But I think the incredulity by the atheists here is because of the simple fact that the establishment and the majority in the United States still is primarily Christian and not because there literally is no "growing anti-Christian sentiment". Thus cries against a "growing anti-Christian sentiment" sound like the cries and complaints of a dictator over the reduction from the absolute power he once had.
This is another case of designating one response for that of an entire class of people. I can't speak for all non-believers, but for myself I can say that this is not the case at all. I think you're arguing this issue backwards. It is the Christian establishment who has had and for the most part still holds a vast amount of power (if not absolute power), influence and control over our culture, legal and political systems. KTR has done a fine job of voicing many examples of this. So it is always the power holder, the dictator, as you said, who greatly rebukes his loss of absolute power. The protestor, atheists in this case, are rejoicing a relative increase in their influence, though that influence is measurably tiny, almost insignificant, and possibly only fleeting.
One thing is clear, the more Christianity is criticized, the more vociferous it becomes, and paradoxically, the more obnoxious it becomes, which probably only leads to more criticism. Just consider the Tebow example. I can remember watching NFL games when I was a young boy, back in the 70's. I don't remember a single player pose, pray and generally exploit their television presence for promotion of religion. Now, such obnoxious displays are not only common, but becoming practically mandatory. Even Ben Rothlesberger, before taking his butt-kicking from the 49ers, posed and prayed on the field, as if the whole thing were scripted. Does anyone else remember that only 2 years ago this same guy was arrested for sexually abusing a girl in a public restroom? Truly a man of god. So, my point is that such displays do absolutely nothing to portray the religion's true message, which I find mostly valid and useful to society. What it does portray is a bloated selfishness and a penchant for self-promotion. My guess is that if Jesus were alive today, the last thing he would want to see is big Ben posing and pointing to heaven on the 50 yard line. And the really sad thing about this is that I wouldn't object to a real
religious message from players, teams or even the league. What if the NFL commissioner appeared at mid-field and announced that in the city of San Francisco there were X number of homeless people that wouldn't have a hot meal tonight and that he recommended that every fan forego one $10 beer or one $8 hotdog and take that money to a shelter after the game or some other selfless act of charity. But no, that's not going to happen. When millions of eyes are watching, it's all about repeatedly demonstrating to the public that yes, I'm still a pious Christian and I'm still pointing to God even though it does nothing to promote the actual commandments that God would have me follow. And this isn't just a public thing, it's also private. When my neighbors dress up in expensive suits and invite me to church, I politely decline. Why is it they never show up at my door asking for help with a community project to help someone in need? Yes, I know they do help, but they always seem far more exuberant in adding to their numbers than actually doing helpful things.
OK, I'm done ranting now...sorry.
I suppose I'm an angry atheist.