Neil is from the same state I’m currently living in — Mississippi — about 3 hours north of me. I met Neil on WordPress last year. Not long ago he was invited to blog at Patheos. I watched an excellent interview featuring Neil. It aired yesterday on CBS. Check it out.
Sunday evening I was chatting with Neil on Facebook and half jokingly said “I hope you still have a job tomorrow.” For many of you who live in another country and may not be aware, being an unbeliever in America can cost you jobs (raises hand), your marriage (raises hand), your social network (raises hand), and is considered political suicide should you decide to run for public office. Those who use the Bible as their guidebook are taught:
“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” 2 Corinthians 6:14
Considering the relatively low number of atheists in America, and the even lower number who are public about their atheism, it appears that Americans have not come to their beliefs about atheists through personal experience nor hard evidence about what atheists are really like. When I was a Christian I was taught in church from a very early age that unbelievers were unethical. I had never met an atheist. After I went through my de-conversion, I learned that I had been sorely misled.
Btw, studies show that religion doesn’t make people more moral.
A study in 2011, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, found that atheists are among society’s most distrusted group, comparable even to rapists in certain circumstances.
In an article published last July by Salon, , writes:
“Though hatred and distrust of atheism may still be at a high point in the U.S., with time and continued exposure, and as more and more atheists come out of the closet, the tide will turn on atheists favorability and maybe the country’s original goal of pure religious freedom will be reached.”
In this city it is now illegal to discriminate against atheist, making it the first city in the country to grant explicit legal protection to people who do not believe in a God. Yay! Progress.
Neil, thanks for your courage to give this interview, and for being openly secular in the most religious state in the Union.