A few days ago, I wrote a post about Affirmative Action. Well, in the ensuing time, I’ve been mulling it over, and I felt like I was missing something. I just read PZ Myers’ response to the guy who runs the infamous Christian Gelato store, and it came clear in my head.
The majority of the people who live in the West see it as wrong to discriminate. They may choose not to care, they may discriminate unintentionally, and they may just be paying lip service to the words, but if you ask them if a candidate should be prevented from election solely because that candidate was of African/Asian/Arabic/Inuit/Native/Hispanic/Whatever the hell else ancestry, they would say that such a decision was wrong. But if you ask the same people the same question, but you change the adjective to Atheist, you get a completely different perspective.
According to Wikipedia, that bastion of truth in a sea of lies, roughly 19-30% of Canadians are atheists or agnostics, and yet we don’t see that reflected in our political landscape. The majority of people in Canada are, if I am not mistaken, Christian, but I think the majority of those are Christmas Christians, the ones who only really care about their faith on special occasions. But I am speculating.
What I find disconcerting about this is that it is considered okay to assume that an Atheist simply wouldn’t have what it takes to run a country or a city or a ward or what have you, and I can only assume that this comes from misconceptions about atheists. We want our leaders to be moral, upright people with vision, determination, and drive. These qualities certainly describe many atheists just as it does many Christians. In truth, faith has nothing to do with any of these qualities. If it did, then the religious could never be assholes and the faithless could never be good people.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying “Wo unto the atheists, it’s so hard to be us! Our experience is totally the same as black people in the southern US!” That would be bullshit. What black people have had to suffer is just not in the same ballpark. Sometimes we have a hard time coming out. Sometimes, in the right cities, we can be demonized. But nobody ever built a country off our sweat and beat us all the while. I absolutely do not want to sound like those guys who claim that male circumcision is as bad or worse than female circumcision. Please don’t misunderstand.
My point is not to imply that we have it that bad. Truth is, we don’t. I just find it frustrating that a lack of faith is an acceptable thing to discriminate against these days.