Oprah Winfrey did it again. She did an interview with Diana Nyad, and along the way, Nyad revealed that she was — oh, horrors — an atheist. Oprah could not process that. She’s so thoroughly anti-atheist that she could not imagine that someone who had accomplished something, who was a human being right before her eyes, could actually not believe in a god, so she vocally denied the possibility. David Niose has written the best criticism I’ve read so far.
Obviously, Oprah needs needs an education. At a minimum, she needs to add some Carl Sagan titles to her book club’s reading list. An outspoken nonbeliever, Sagan was known not just as a great scientist, but for inspiring wonder and awe. Many would agree that his Pale Blue Dot commentary is more profound than any religious broadcast. Or perhaps Oprah should consider the deep message behind the monologue of Julia Sweeney’s Letting Go of God. Atheism and awe are quite compatible.
Oprah, exalted by so many but oblivious to the fact that she is dehumanizing atheists, does more to perpetuate negative attitudes toward nonbelievers than Pat Robertson or James Dobson ever could. The general public takes comments from Robertson and Dobson with a grain of salt – but Oprah, as a media tycoon and a beloved celebrity whose opinions are taken seriously by millions, has just confirmed that atheists are "the other," outsiders who just don’t belong in the in-group. (And the evidence is clear that atheists are indeed widely, and wrongly, scorned in America. With commentary such as Oprah’s, we can see why.)
Maybe she needs to devote a show to educating herself and her viewers on the awe-inspiring, wondrous aspects of atheism and secular humanism?
Yes! And of course, to illustrate that atheists are wonderful, sensitive, caring people who are delighted with the universe, she should invite ME to be on the show.