“I don’t know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.”
These are the words of former President, George H. W. Bush at a press conference, August 27, 1984.
The Washington Post reported on a recent poll. When 2,000 randomly selected people were asked which group they would disapprove of their child marrying, 48% said atheist. Only 27% of white parents disapproved of a marriage to an African American.
When asked which groups did not share American values, 40% said atheists, only 26% said Muslems. Even gay marriage advocates only scored 22%. Thus, atheists are disliked twice as much as any other group they were compared to.
Nonbelievers do discuss this from time to time. Should they be more accepting and less critical of faith? Should they be more strident and in-your-face?
If we look at other groups who were once in the position atheists find themselves today, homosexual and black people, plus women, it is hard to say one approach only was the key to acceptance. All had in-your-face factions, and lets-be-nice ones as well. Both factions seemed to have helped.
My own theory is the average member of the public first dislikes people who are different because they do not change. Later, they realize the different people are not going to change. So, eventually, this average person says, “Well, OK. They’re different, but I can live with that.”
Most atheists will not be changing. Maybe in time, people can live with that.