A Social Commentary

It is a sad fact of life that despite the ever-growing number of Americans embracing unbelief, atheists continue to suffer the ill-effects of racist-style intolerance at the hands of religious zealots; particularly in small-town America where implacable, ultra-religious bigwigs (and those feigning pious and devout sentiments) hold sway; where the Holier than Thou’s determine the “comfort level” area atheists are permitted to enjoyeven determine whether an individual atheist or family can reside in “their” community in some instances!

For non-believers feeling the full brunt of such intolerance there seemed to be no hope that things would change for the better anytime soon. 

Then along came Barack Obama’s “Call to Renewal” speech of June 28, 2006:

Barack is here, resolute, unequivocal, and speaking from the heart. He is a man tackling a very sensitive issue with the moral courage of his convictions. Finally, a presidential candidate unafraid to stand up for the non-religious American! A candidate who, fortunately enough, is now our 44th President.

So what has the Call for Renewal speech done for the atheist suffering the “love” of Christian bigots in the workplace or elsewhere within their community these past three years? Not much, unfortunately. Atheist-despising religious bigots continue to discriminate with virtual impunity. Our courts continue to ignore flagrant anti-atheist behavior. And most Americans continue to view atheists as inherently immoral and unethical—no matter how baseless the charge.

Yet a change has taken place. The fact that Obama included the term “unbelievers” in the same breath and on equal-footing with religious denominations most Americans hold with deep reverence marks a positive, progressive, shift in today’s political thought. 

Barack, being the shrewd, savvy, politician he is, has sensed a change in the air. His own heart-felt conviction that every American has the right to unbelief without reproach, coupled with clear-cut evidence that more Americans no longer feel the need to embrace belief to get through their day-to-day existence, has worked towards wearing away some of the tarnish long associated with the atheist world-view.

It’s only a baby first-step towards elevating atheism to its rightful position in America’s body politic. But it is a rational, progressive step in the right direction.

We should be immensely grateful to now President Obama for the moral backbone, leadership, and forward-thinking he so bravely exhibited.