Nicole Smalkowski, the young woman discriminated against because she is an atheist, was in the news again on Friday. She was interviewed by John Stossel (who is a colossal douche) for 20/20 and a story about disbelief in America. Stossel makes much of the fact that atheists are a minority and that this is a “Christian nation”, but no matter how smarmy he gets, the sincerity of the Smalkowski family and the injustice of Nicole‘s situation comes through loud and clear.
If you missed the broadcast like I did, have no fear, Norm comes through: it’s available at onegoodmove.
We usually called places like Hardesty, Oklahoma “small town America”, but I think we have to rephrase that to “small mind America.” What Nicole really needs to do is hang tough for a little longer and get away to an open-minded university—they’re everywhere, and there she’ll find a community of people who think unbelief is just fine (one reason going to college erodes faith isn’t just that students get smarter—finding out that you don’t have to believe in nonsense to be a good person and that you can be accepted socially if you don’t go to church every Sunday can be very liberating). I can vouch for Minnesota’s Campus Atheists, Skeptics, and Humanists organization as a very welcoming group — I’ll be their faculty advisor in the coming year, and we’re planning to start a chapter here at my campus this fall (and my campus has an American Indian tuition waver, by the way, encourages participation in sports, has a lively music program, has excellent academic standards, and is set in a very low stress small town environment. Hint, hint. I’d love to see more rural Americans getting enlightened at universities and returning to their communities to open those tight and puckered minds.)