In response to the fracas between South Carolina’s Governor and a state senator over the alleged atheism of a political appointee, there was a wonderful editorial in The State about whether that should even be an issue:
If [Lillian] Koller were an atheist (she apparently isn’t), how would that negatively affect her job performance? Why would anyone’s religious beliefs or lack of beliefs be an issue at all?
Of course, we all know why. The issue is prejudice. Atheists are one of the most maligned groups in America, especially in the Christian South, where the first question someone asks upon meeting you is, “So where do you go to church?”
Courts can abolish discrimination, which is written in law, but they can’t abolish prejudice, which is written in hearts and minds. Hearts and minds are much more difficult to change because they can be clouded by ignorance. All prejudice is founded on ignorance and fear: Atheists are immoral; blacks are lazy; Muslims are terrorists; gays are pedophiles. Only understanding can eradicate ignorance, and only love can cast out fear.
It’s really a fantastic piece — made even better by the fact that it was written by someone with the title of “Reverend.”
Rev. Dr. Neal Jones is minister at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia and a brief glance at his sermons reveals someone who genuinely cares about what atheists have to deal with.
(Thanks to Brian for the link)