How To Respect Minorities

Or more usefully, how will non-believers treat those that still believe in gods when non-belief is the dominant perspective in society?

I think this is a question that needs answers now. Many non-believers know how they are treated now by a society of believers and think it is wrong. How will we treat the minority when the minority position is belief in gods?

  • Will they be made to feel afraid of talking about their belief in public?
  • Will they be made to fear for their livelihood if they speak of their beliefs at work?
  • Will they be made to profess non-belief to be elected to office?
  • Will they be made to ask special dispensation to be married in a church?
  • Will they be persecuted for attempting teach belief in public schools?
  • Will they still be given tax breaks for their meeting places?
  • Will they be allowed to swear on their holy book in courtrooms?
  • Will they be constantly reminded that everyone else thinks their views are delusional, immoral, and dangerous?
  • Will perfect strangers look upon them in condescension when their belief is found out?
  • Will their belief be so ill thought of that suicide becomes an option for them?
  • Will they worry that belief in gods will be made illegal?

So, what do you think? How will those who believe in gods be treated when they are the small minority? How will deists be treated? What kind of reaction will be expected when people say that they are ‘spiritual’ but not religious?

How do  you think they should be treated? Leave a comment and let me know.


    • Joe ‘Blondie’ Manco
    • April 17th, 2012

    I think with less prominence in the public square they will suffer less mocking and ridicule. The majority would, I imagine, be dealing with other problems and thinking about other things. Similar to how things were for me as an atheist in the decade or two before the rise of “New Atheism” and the frequency of religious topics in the press.
    I’d like to say that anxiety about this topic is what makes the religious so outspoken these days but I’m sure there’d be more to it than that, like the complete refusal to believe that the universe wasn’t created specifically for them and that their religious practice isn’t the top priority in everyone else’s lives.

    A very good question that deserves a lot more thought.

    • Having just seen some of the videos and responses to Greta’s poll, I’d think that Australia would have a different view on this question than Americans in general. I asked the questions because I cannot guess how people will be treated when the believers are the minority. I can’t quite see the pithiness fading away without incident. People like the Westboro Baptist Church won’t fade away and I think that such groups will keep the antagonism going longer than it needs to. I can see how it would not be difficult for the bigotry to fly in the reverse direction. I hope that the change will be mellow and not swing past the point where normal should be for very long. Atheist are not an organized group and their world views are divergent. It’s hard to say how hard the push back will swing. I think you’re right, it’s a question that needs much more thought and discussion. Rather than discuss how we can get along we should be discussing terms of surrender?

        • Joe ‘Blondie’ Manco
        • April 19th, 2012

        Sorry for the late reply. My original response was written very quickly. In it I was envisioning a world where believers were already the minority, I had skipped the path we had to take to get there. You’re right in saying that as we go down that road the backlash will get louder (more violent?) before it gets quieter. Even in the best-case scenario there will still be believers on the fringes of society, along with the astrologers, psychics, tarot card readers etc. The focus then will be to remain vigilant and keep them under control. As long as they remain harmless let the baby have it’s bottle. I don’t think religious practice will ever be stamped out completely, unfortunately.

        Australia is pretty ideal by world standards but awareness definitely needs raising. Personally I’ve lived a pretty sheltered and religious-free life up until this point. I’ve only started paying attention to religion’s influence in public life here recently. At the atheist convention last week I learned a few interesting things about challenges to section 116 of the constitution, the “chaplaincy program” and scripture classes in schools etc. so the threat is there.

        Westboro Baptist Church – I’ve even heard of those nuts in my corner of the world.

        • Yes, I’ve looked at various places which are much less religious than the USA and I see that fundamentalist believers get more or less batshit rabid when the tide of cultural acceptance of non-belief becomes the norm. This is possibly due to the lack of moderate religious voices being all but gone. In the US we already have a bucket full of batshit fundamentalists so it follows that it is likely that their lunacy will only get worse. I’d like western culture to settle into a state where it is much like the writers for the Star Trek shows put humanity. Respectful of beliefs but disrespectful of wilful ignorance, and absolutely not believing in gods… not even when Q appears.

          Religious belief is harmful to society, even the banal and seemingly innocuous faiths that don’t promote fundamentalism. Sigh… I have my fingers crossed?

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