The Atheist Experience featured in BBC story about Atheist TV


Hey everyone, you’ve probably all heard the news by now that The Atheist Experience is now one of the flagship shows for the newly launched Atheist TV channel. Atheist TV is a project of American Atheists, which has created a Roku channel dedicated entirely to programming by freethinkers. At the current time, they aren’t equipped to handle live broadcasts as they happen. However, we have provided them with a number of previously recorded HD episodes, and will continue uploading new content as the shows are completed. Hopefully in the future we can work out a way to air live episodes as well.

A reporter from the BBC got in touch with us to get more information about our show, as a small part of a larger story about Atheist TV and what atheists face in the United States. Based on all the emails we got yesterday (thanks for the breaking news, fans!) the story has gone live.

The stigma of being an atheist in the US

Here’s the bit where we were quoted.

Astonishingly, a previous poll by Pew suggested respondents in the US regarded atheists as less trustworthy than rapists. One of Atheist TV’s new phone-in programmes, The Atheist Experience, has already had a taste of how many Americans perceive “non-believers”.

“So you were studying to be a minister, and now you don’t believe in God? You’re the devil,” one caller tells the host. “You’re a Marxist, you’re an atheist and you’re from Russia,” says another.

There’s a lot more interesting reading in that article. Additionally, the reporter was kind enough to supply and audio file of the story that ran on BBC this Friday. Click here to listen.

Thanks to the people who helped get this online: Todd Jones at AA for coordinating with me to get us involved; Serafina Smith for editing and uploading the videos; Martin Wagner for supplying the raw HD recordings; and the ACA board for supporting this effort. We’re excited to be involved.

Comments

  1. Paul Wright says

    I’m always surprised at the difference between the way atheists are perceived in the UK v’s the US. In the UK, being an atheist isn’t a drawback, in fact it’s often the opposite as it shows you to be someone who has at least looked at the subject and decided that to believe in a god based on the available ‘evidence’ would be a credulous and naïve thing to do. Religion is mocked openly on our TV shows by comedians quite often. Most people I meet are either out atheists or call them selves religious but never really go to church beyond Easter and Xmas. Religion in the UK is a benign force for the most part which is on the decline I’m happy to say.

    In the US though, everything seems to be reversed. Being an American atheist makes you someone who is less trusted than a rapist ? How can this be ? The irony for me is that the US has the worlds first and only secular constitution and yet it is still the most religious of the Western nations. How can this be ? Why has religion got such a hold in the US is what I would like to understand. My first thought is that the US education system is flawed. Instead of teaching kids about religion, the aim seems to be to indoctrinate or reinforce religion in kids. Am I right ? I don’t know, maybe someone who knows better can enlighten me. Here in the UK we have R.E. (Religious Education) classes in our schools. The aim is not to indoctrinate but to inform, We also don’t teach creation science for the most part. There are a small number of Academy’s here in the UK that do teach creation science, but there is a big push back trying to reverse that trend.

    One thing missing from UK schools, and I suspect US schools too, is a class designed to teach kids the importance of critical thinking. Teaching kids to think for themselves has to be a huge step in the right direction. Teach them basic logic and the various fallacies, how to evaluate truths claims, the importance of the burden of proof, the importance of scepticism etc. Teach them to think for themselves and not take as red what ANY authority figure says until they have looked at it for themselves.

    I feel the right sort of education is the key to promoting a generation of young atheists.

  2. Monocle Smile says

    My first thought is that the US education system is flawed.

    Score one for intuition. This has been a major problem for a very, very long time.

    There’s a lot of history behind this, but my feeling is that early America didn’t educate everyone. In fact, it barely educated anyone. There was a long period of time where only white males were publicly educated, and only those who weren’t already working in the fields. Educating the masses came much, much, MUCH later. I mean, Brown v. Board of Education, which ultimately mandated integrated schools by race, only happened in friggin’ 1954!

    Another major factor is the demographics of apathy. Unfortunately, reasonable people tend to be apathetic in this country while extremists lobby harder and are more likely to vote. Thus, due to repeated surges of rural revivalism, we have hordes of religious fundamentalists voting and spending in droves. Furthermore, Christianity is clearly losing the conversion battle (fewer Americans openly identify as Christian every year), so the reaction is to double down and get crazier (the number of fundamentalists is increasing).

    The only hope is to repair the horrific education system. I’m a fan of Socratic learning institutes for younger children.

  3. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Paul Wright:

    Being an American atheist makes you someone who is less trusted than a rapist?

    Can’t have morals without Yahweh.
     

    the US has the worlds first and only secular constitution and yet it is still the most religious of the Western nations. How can this be?

    Common explanation: Without state-support to protect a specific church’s monopoly, numerous denominations compete, having to intensify their indoctrination/marketing… whereas Church of England got complacent.
     

    My first thought is that the US education system is flawed. Instead of teaching kids about religion, the aim seems to be to indoctrinate or reinforce religion in kids. Am I right?

    There are a lot of religious preschools (for four-year olds). In public schools, religion’s mostly avoided (though sometimes curricula get watered down to avoid complaints from nutty parents). However the quality of teachers varies, so occasionally there’s a creationist teaching biology class. And, of course, school systems vary from state to state.
     

    One thing missing from UK schools, and I suspect US schools too, is a class designed to teach kids the importance of critical thinking.

    In… I dunno, 6th grade… I had a health class that happened to cover some common fallacies in advertising (authority, bandwagon, etc).
     
    And ugh, the TV. Can you imagine not having access to BBC’s documentaries?

  4. Paul Wright says

    Thanks for the replies guys.

    I guess the US has a generational issue too. You guys really need the old school right wing religious people to die off and be replaced with the up and coming more free thinking atheists who are currently coming through. Kind of like how the Civil Rights movement and the Gay Movement took a generation to take hold. An openly atheist president would certainly help. Any chance of that happening soon ?

  5. Paul Wright says

    Yeah, bit of a pipe dream right now. You elected Obama, a black man, maybe Hillary Clinton will get in next, first woman, so who knows, maybe an atheist President is just around the corner.

    To be honest, I secretly think that Obama is an atheist, but I can’t back it up with evidence. :(

  6. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Paul Wright:

    An openly atheist president would certainly help. Any chance of that happening soon?

    Article: Pew – Americans are somewhat more open to the idea of an atheist president

    HuffPo’s title: “Americans would rather vote for a philandering, pot-smoking president than an atheist one.”

  7. Dan says

    I’ve wasted time watching stupid movies ect., but I’ve never watched anything that was a bigger waste of time than this BULLSHIT! Can you please tell me why you are wasting peoples time with this. Nothing you are saying even makes sense. Christianity WINS EVERY TIME BITCH!

  8. says

    I would rather shake hands with an atheist than with someone who prostrates before anyone or anything other than Allah.

    There are two groups of atheists: 1) those who honestly and sincerely need concrete proof in order to change their minds and start believing in anything; 2) those who would never change their mind even if they were taken into the skies and saw God (whatever it is) with their own eyes.

    Even those who have strong belief in a deity (Allah, for example) may go through times when they are gripped by doubts. But if thy are like the first group above, they may end up with an even stronger belief, one that will never be shaken. If they only wanted something wordly to enjoy in this life, they may lose their belief for ever.

    Good luck to you.

  9. corwyn says

    But if thy are like the first group above, they may end up with an even stronger belief, one that will never be shaken.

    If they end up with a belief that can never be shaken, they are of type 2, not type 1. Those in type 1 need evidence to change their minds, and further (contradicting) evidence will change it right back. So got any evidence for this god of yours?

  10. unfogged says

    I think the only appropriate response to an argument of that caliber is “I’m rubber, you’re glue…”

  11. Monocle Smile says

    You’d be very, very hard-pressed to find any atheist members of group 2 you described above. I’m sure they exist, but I’m unaware of their existence by any degree of separation.

  12. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @azlu:

    if they were taken into the skies and saw God (whatever it is) with their own eyes.

    You think God is a thing in the sky?
     
    Video: NPR – The Billion-Bug Highway You Can’t See
     
    Maybe we’ve found it already – y’know with radar, drones, hot air balloons, helicopters, planes, air ships, weather balloon cameras, rockets, satellites?

  13. ChaosS says

    Reply to Paul Wright’s post up at the very top.

    Another piece of the puzzle to understanding us Yanks is the long tradition of anti-intellectualism in the US. Here in America, there is special disdain for intellectual types with all that fancy book learnin’ trying to tell good old-fashioned salt-of-earth humble folk what to do all the time. Also explains why we hate the metric system, environmentalism, feminism, I’m sure I could think of more…

  14. Robert, not Bob says

    It’s always looked to me as seeing intellectual pursuits as a criminal waste of critical resources (taking time and money away from the supreme purpose of American society: making the rich richer).

  15. Paul Wright says

    Reply to ChaosS

    Anti-intellectualism is the last refuge of the ignorant. We have some of those types here in the UK too.

  16. zendruid says

    “Christianity WINS EVERY TIME BITCH!”

    Which game are you playing anyway? Is it a genocide competition or is it the good old “Who has the best dead prophet icon”?

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