U.S. atheists become more vocal
For some atheists in the United States, it’s a bright new day with the election of Barack Obama because they hope the president will move away from government policies shaped by religious beliefs.
Others aren’t so sure, and it remains to be seen whether a friendlier climate translates into more people publicly embracing an atheist or non-theist philosophy in an overwhelmingly Christian country.
My colleague Mike Conlon has done a story on the state of play in the U.S. atheist movement which you can read here.
A recent report from Connecticut’s Trinity College found 12 percent of Americans were atheists, agnostics or doubters — far smaller than in most developed countries, but not an insignificant number. It means they outnumber every religious denomination in America except for the Catholic Church.
There has been a spate of best-selling books in recent years attacking religion and on the big screen there was Bill Maher’s “Religulous.”
Atheists in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex were planning this week to start a billboard campaign (similar to ones that have been tried elsewhere) with signs saying: “Don’t believe in God? You are not alone.”
But how much respect can atheists command in a country with just about the highest rates of religiosity in the wealthy industrial world? And while Obama has signaled he respects their point of view, he also claims to be driven by his own Christian faith.
Does this mean that religion still has a big influence on politics and public policy in America? What do you think?
(Photo: Documentary film “Religulous” narrator Bill Maher and director Larry Charles pose for a portrait during the 33rd Toronto International Film Festival Sept. 7, 2008. REUTERS/Mark Blinch (CANADA))