Atheists in the US are rallying together, launching a new TV programme and providing support for those who go public with their beliefs.
“Sometimes things need to be said, and fights need to be fought even if they are unpopular. To the closeted atheists, you are not alone, and you deserve equality.”
So goes the rousing speech from the American Atheists president, David Silverman, in the opening moments of the first US television broadcaster dedicated to those who do not believe in God, Atheist TV.
A series of testimonies from prominent atheists then follows.
“It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life and I completely advocate people ‘coming out’,” says Mark Hatcher, from Black Atheists of America.
“Coming out” is how many atheists in the USA describe what remains, for many, a very difficult admission to make publicly.
I know Mark Hatcher – I was on a panel with him at the CFI Summit last fall.
At one of the biggest gatherings of atheist students in the country, in Columbus, Ohio, Jamila Bey from the Secular Student Alliance said there were many attendees who were nervous about being interviewed and had indicated so by what they were wearing around their neck.
“Red lanyards mean ‘You may not talk to me’,” says Bey. “A number of the students we have aren’t ‘out’. Their parents may not know that they are atheist or questioning their religion.”
She said many were worried about being ostracised or were even scared of violence if they revealed they did not believe in God.
I know Jamila, too. It’s odd reading about people you know at the BBC.
They offers some numbers.
Who is an atheist?
• 2% of US adults say they are atheists
• 67% of them are men
• 26% of them see themselves as spiritual
• 82% say at times they feel a deep connection with nature
Source: Pew Research Center
That 67% – that’s sad. That’s terrible. You’d think it would be worth making organized atheism less shitty to women in hopes of bringing more of them in.