"Fundamentalist Intolerance of Atheists is Unwarranted," a Commentary by Michael O'Brien

February 8, 2007

Author: Michael O'Brien

Source: The Heights


Throughout his presidency, while combating Islamism in the Middle East, Bush has consistently and successfully appeased America's Christian Religious Right. Beliefs, like intelligent design, have garnered ranks of support as religious zealots have become increasingly intolerant of their opposition, particularly movements such as atheism and secular humanism. At the same time, the Religious Right has continued to advocate religious doctrine as society's highest authority on law and politics - ranging from support for reintroducing prayer in public schools to the pro-life movement to the arguments against homosexual marriage.

The surge in pro-atheist literature has been promulgated by three public intellectuals - Richard Dawkins, professor of evolutionary biology at Oxford, Daniel Dennett, professor of philosophy at Tufts, and Sam Harris, an author studying neuroscience. Each has recently published books rebuking popular religion's intolerance, and promoting secular humanism, among other things. And in this age of fundamentalism, the views of these three antireligious crusaders aren't surprising.

A recent segment on the news program Paula Zahn NOW, which investigated discrimination against atheists in America, has led me to the conclusion that this growing trend of Christian religious intolerance and lawmaking has become overbearing, pompous, and annoying.

Zahn's segment can be divided into two parts. The first part was an investigative piece on a family that was kicked out of a Southern town two years ago because the family's parents were open atheists. They were ignored by people they had previously considered firm friends. People would allegedly drive up to their house and stare at them like they were aliens or animals in a zoo. Ultimately, the family's landlord kicked them out. It really is sad that Christian religious intolerance has come to this point. It's comparable to the racism against African-Americans that inspired the Civil Rights movement.