Discrimination or prejudice is one tradition/habit/trait/instinct that has apparently followed humans throughout their development from cave dwellers to city dwellers, from stone clubs to night clubs, from the thrill of the hunt to the exhaustion of the race. Anyone different or strange or just not LIKE us is still viewed with suspicion, often fueled by misconceptions, stereotypes, personal issues and yes, perhaps a nugget of truth. We try, as EVOLVED human beings, to get past it and judge each person based on merit, not on issues like skin color, gender, age, ethnicity, social class--or religious belief.
Unless, of course, that person stands up and says, "I'm an atheist."
Then, unlike with other biases, it is okay to kick that person out of your house, refuse to speak to them, ostracize them in public, terrify your children, spread false rumors about you and your family, end decades long friendships, and even threaten their safety.
I am sure that is what your God wants you to do to us evil non-believers, right?
My family moved out to Oregon ten years ago for a number of reasons and one of the most important was the freedom to choose our beliefs--or non-beliefs--in privacy and respect. Everything listed above isn't an exaggeration--they are things that happened to us in the name of "Christian" kindness.
To this day, my kids are hesitant to use the "A" word simply because of the cruelty they have been shown by many religious people. Out here, that fear is slowly dissipating, but I don't know that it will ever disappear completely, because of the assumptions and discrimination that go hand in hand with the atheist title. Suddenly, this nice, fun, pleasant, loving family that we were 60 seconds ago, transformed into immoral, deluded, hurry-away-because-they-might-invoke-evil, don't-get-too-close-because-they-might-be-contagious-and-threaten-our-personal-beliefs people. POOF. Must be magic. A minute ago we were friends--now we're not. You don't follow the same God I do, so I don't wanna play with you anymore . . . .
I do NOT get it. The Christian God is supposed to be a loving one. Did I miss somewhere in the Bible where it encourages all followers to be critical, condemning and even vicious to those who follow a different path? If you want people to share your beliefs, don't you think a role model of tolerance, kindness, and love is the better approach?
Shocking as it may be to hear, atheists can be moral, kind, compassionate, beautiful people--or not. So can Christians--or not. That's because we are all human beings with choices to make. I don't give you any flack about yours even if I think it is utterly incomprehensible to me. Please--can I have the same respect?