By Adi Chowdhury
Richard Dawkins has not minced his words when lamenting the deplorable perception of atheists that the world harbors. In light of the DNC email leak revealing that Bernie Sanders’ campaign was maligned and sabotaged by anti-atheist bigotry, Dawkins has voiced his “outrage” that being an atheist is clearly an impediment to garnering the trust of Americans.
The prominent atheist and intellectual tweeted his contempt for this smearing of Sanders’ campaign, demanding: “What kind of a country is it where “accusing” a candidate of atheism is assumed to damage his electoral prospects?”
This vigor is well-earned by the blatant bigotry of the DNC. One of their emails read, “[Bernie Sanders] had skated on having a Jewish heritage. I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist.”
The Center for Inquiry has also voiced their condemnation of this scandalous leak, reporting that they found it “appalling that anyone within the Democratic National Committee would casually suggest attacking a candidate for their alleged atheism.” The Center continued:
“Entertaining such a cynical and bigoted line of attack violates any number of basic American principles: It presumes a religious test for holding office, something expressly prohibited in the Constitution. It pits the majority against a marginalized minority group, intensifying the country’s already escalating divisions. It exacerbates the gross stereotype of atheists as second-class citizens or somehow less moral than believers, a stereotype atheists have been tirelessly battling for generations. Perhaps most importantly, it sends the unmistakable signal to atheist Americans that despite all of our hard-won progress for equal treatment, atheists are still not welcome, not “one of us,” not American.
Let us be clear: Atheists are Americans. Atheists are Democrats, as well as Republicans and independents. We are as integral a part of the fabric of this country as any other group. Atheists have fought, struggled, and died for this country and its values alongside friends, family, and neighbors of all beliefs. At every turning point for social progress, atheists, humanists, and other nonbelievers have been on the front lines, helping to lead the charge for civil rights, women’s equality, and LGBTQ rights.
Atheists, humanists, “nones,” and all others who have rejected traditional religious belief will no longer be silent when institutions of power attempt to reinforce pernicious stereotypes about the nonreligious. We matter, we have a powerful voice — and a vote — and we will use it.”
The DNC email leak rightfully incurs the abhorrence of any citizen willing to embrace pluralism and religious diversity and dissent. Utilizing a candidate’s lack of faith to slander his campaign is beyond immature and, simply, nonsensical.