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Harassed because he’s an atheist

Hemant Mehta, the Friendly Atheist, is being harassed by the Illinois Family Institute for the egregious crime of being both atheist and “out of the closet”. Laurie Higgins, leader of this wretched hive of scum and villainy, has implemented a smear campaign in an attempt to get Mehta fired from his position as a math teacher — ostensibly because being an atheist makes one unfit to teach children.

I still have a lot of problems with coming out to friends and family and co-workers for exactly this reason. The religious have co-opted the word atheist to mean all manner of vile and fallacious things, and it’s gotten to the point where jokes against atheists are laughed at on television with nary a person taking umbrage. A similar joke aimed at any other minority group would raise the hue and cry, and advertisers would be targeted, but with atheists, it’s perfectly okay to insult and demean them because belief in a deity is endemic to being human and we are therefore subhuman. It’s for this reason that I’m always very careful letting co-workers know about my blog, as if it becomes public knowledge where I work, I might get targeted for this same kind of harassment from intolerant religious folks. I don’t know whether my boss would much care about my lack of belief in deities, but having someone outside the company complain widely to people inside the company and higher up on the food chain than I am might lead to a great deal of unmerited discomfort.

There’s more information about Mehta’s fight at the Examiner, and a great deal more at Hemant Mehta’s own blog.

Comments

  1. says

    Almost makes me sad to be living in Illinois. Almost… Knowing that this woman lives in the same state where I live means that perhaps, in some small way, I too may be a thorn in her side one day.

  2. says

    How dare you impugn wretched hives of scum and villainy by associating them with a mentally crippled mound of crap like the Illinois Family Institute. We scum and villains who habit such wretched hives must strenuously object to the degradation of our precious reputation.

  3. sinned34 says

    Thankfully, most IT departments I’ve worked in tend to have an amazingly high concentration of agnostics/atheists. Even the one small family-run business I worked at for a while had a decidedly anti-religion owner. We tend to have a number of religion-bashing discussions every week, but we try to tone it down because we do have one Evangelical Christian in our department, and there’s a fair amount of fundies in the rest of the organization as well!

    I’d like to think that because IT requires you to have a troubleshooting, skeptical mindset that seeks out realistic answers, it tends to attract people with analytical minds that are capable of independent thinking, but that’s probably just my ego talking!

  4. says

    I just changed “very careful co-workers about” to “very careful letting co-workers know about”. I don’t know how I lost those two words.

    Sinned, if your experience is any measure of our industry, then I’d have to agree. Almost every one of my compatriots is extraordinarily talented at investigative matters, and hopefully this would translate to being skeptical and analytical about irrational beliefs as well. Fundies complain that education leads to atheism all the time, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s actually quite a bit different in reality — willingness to investigate and analyze and not take things at face value leads to atheism and education only facilitates those other qualities.

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