Is Atheism a civil rights issue?
Several states still have laws on the books that ban atheists from holding public office. Being an atheist can be used in divorce cases to argue against custody. Atheists who stand up for their first amendment right to not be proselytized to in school are routinely persecuted.
Which is my way of saying . . . maybe it is a civil rights issue.
Nearly one in five Americans now identify themselves as being religiously unaffiliated — a figure that’s been on the rise for the past two decades. But as atheists and non-religious folk increasingly step out of the closet, many still feel marginalized — and even a bit threatened — by a larger religious society wary of their growing presence. The required next step, says Todd Stiefel, is to make atheism a civil rights issue. And he’s putting his money where his mouth is.
To date, Stiefel, a 38-year-old former Catholic from Raleigh, North Carolina, has poured $3.5 million of his own dollars into various atheist organizations, including American Atheists, the American Humanist Association, the Secular Coalition for America, and many others. If you’ve seen those flashy atheist billboards, or news clips encouraging atheists to step up, then you’ve probably seen his money at work.
Dan Merica from CNN recently spoke to Stiefel, at which time he made his goals very clear.
“What I am trying to accomplish is multifold,” he told Merica. “I consider myself working on the next civil equality movement, just like women’s rights, LGBT rights and African-American Civil Rights. We are still in the early stages of eliminating discrimination against atheists and humanists. That is something I really want to accomplish.”
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