At a press conference, then Vice President George H. W. Bush told a reporter, "I don't know that atheists should be regarded as citizens, nor should they be regarded as patriotic."
The quote is much discussed and highly contentious. Not only because it shows a total lack of understanding of the principles our country was founded on by a man who would later go on to lead it, but because it shows exactly how hostile Americans are to atheists.
A 2006 study from the University of Minnesota found that more than Catholics, Jews, Muslims and Mexicans, atheists are the least-trusted minority.
“Atheists, who account for about 3-percent of the U.S. population, offer a glaring exception to the rule of increasing social tolerance over the last 30 years,” says Penny Edgell, associate sociology professor at the University of Minnesota and the study’s lead researcher.
Boise Weekly Facebook fan Alan Hawkes offered a standard justification for the mistrust in a comment on July 22: "Atheists=Someone that does not want to be held accountable for there [sic] actions!"
Atheists would generally counter that every vice comes with its own punishment. If you smoke, you get cancer. If you are deceitful, you will be socially isolated. If you kill someone, you go to jail and feel horrendously guilty for the rest of your life. The more scientific of the lot would offer concepts of evolutionary psychology and how notions of right and wrong, good and evil are basic survival mechanisms that have developed over millions of years. For example, we are more likely to survive if we don't kill one another. Therefore, it is a deeply repugnant and emotionally traumatic act we seek to avoid at all costs.
The general populace remains unconvinced. But perhaps that's just because atheists are invisible. Except for this guy.
So today, why not meet some?
Tonight at Tom Grainey's is the first ever Meet an Atheist event, hosted by the Idaho Atheists.
From the press release:
Essentially this is an opportunity for Atheists (or people that are curious about Atheists) to meet other non-believers, discuss upcoming events and grow the Atheist perspective in Boise.
Feel free to invite any friends or family that may be interested in learning more about what the Idaho Atheists do; it's non evasive—and we won't even pass a collection plate at the end.
The meet-up starts at 7:30 p.m. and is free in both cost and thought process.