Atheism, in religious wars, is even more despised than the rival cult. In the eyes of extremists, any rival would be better, as at least he believs in something. The “wrong” god, sure, but with a moral. Not much time ago the Iheu – International humanist and ethical union – raised the alarm on Egypt campaigns on atheism, exposing the menace against free thinking and free speaking.
We got constant news about christian persecutions or about the intolerance and prejudices towards muslims. Is not said enough how, in many countries, atheism is severely punished. Saudi Arabia, Mauritania, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iran, even the apparent paradise of the Maldives have death penalty for not believing in any god. But the record of executions belongs to Pakistan, although the attempts of leading the Nation through tolerance – see the murder of Benazir Bhutto. Others like Kuwait, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Jordan forbid the spread of texts which may mislead the good muslim to a godless existance.
That’s a major issue in islam, better yet in some dictatorial regimes which distort the scriptures at their own benefit, to mantain and increase power. That’s backward, of course. But some convinctions and stereotypes are really hard to eradicate, even in western “civilized” countries. In 1987 – non in the Middle Age – George Bush sr., “champion” of the free world against communism, said that atheists shouldn’t be considered citizens or patriots. Seven american States (Arkansas, Maryland, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Pennsylvania and Tennessee) don’t allow atheists to become pubblic officers. In Arkansas they can’t even witness at trials, because is non sense for them to swear on the Bible. Like there’s no alternative to it. Luckily none of these laws is really applied. But atheism is still seen with suspicion.
During an experiment made in 2011 by Will Gervais, Azim Shariff and Ara Norenzayan for British Columbia University, two groups of students had to choose whether give the jobs of waiter and pre-school teacher to an atheist or to a believer. Guess what? The majority thaught that the believer was better as a teacher. The atheist didn’t gain their trust, if he doesn’t believe in the reward of the afterlife, why should they behave? The ripercussion could be on the carreer too, according to Calvinism.
So the “amorality” of atheism jeopardizes the society basis even more than religious minorities. Is not casual that preconcepts are at their lowest rate in scandinavian countries, where atheism is more scattered. Because knowledge is always the best antidote. Not having a religious ethic doesn’t mean not having an ethic at all, Humanism should have thaught a little something. In Italy, land of the pope, the perception of atheism enhanced, also because the statistics said that the number of people who don’t go tu church grew fro 16% to 20% in the last 10 years.
Speaking of the pope, the actual one Francis had his openings to homesexuality, divorce and atheism itself, “better than the hypocricy of some catholics”. Even atheists will get their corner of paradise?