CNN aired a special all about atheism this evening, titled “Atheists: Inside the World of Non-Believers“.(1)Teaser linked for now This is surely the end product of activity last year when some reporters were asking around the atheist circles. They recorded a Georgia Tech Campus Freethinkers meeting and one of Atlanta’s Sunday Assemblies, both of which I was present for, and I sent them a long email about my journey to nonbelief. None of that is featured in the special, but it’s nice to see the project I saw in the works finally completed.
This airing seems to coincide with another feature of nonbelief for CNN. Just the other day they published a lengthy article called “The Friendly Atheists Next Door” highlighting a delightful, happy family that manages to also be nonreligious. To people in the atheism community for a while, this may seem mundane, but for the millions who believe we apostates to be evil, Harry Shaughnessy stands in stark, cheery contrast.
The special tonight moved between many different members of the larger atheism movement: Dawkins, Silverman, Dewitt, and some younger faces. There’s a lot within the community, and there are some differing opinions on the show’s quality. I’ll offer my opinions on the good and bad points.
Here in Georgia, Senate bill 129, or the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act”, has been a big topic of conversation. Religious leaders have been showing up at the capitol repeatedly to express their support of a bill they believe will allow them to discriminate based on LGBT* status. Georgia Unites demonstrated today to share the opposite opinion and fight for anti-discrimination.
The bill’s original sponsor, Josh McKoon, says it does no such thing as religious leaders champion and progressives fear, instead pointing to the controversial firing of Atlanta’s fire chief based on a book he wrote, without permission, containing homophobic material. Here’s a half-hour long video explaining McKoon’s side, which I skimmed through.
I have a lot of thoughts on “religious freedom” and its need for “restoration”. I think the priority religion has in overriding other laws is already often too high. I feel that nuance in different situations is lost when everything is subsumed by “public square” chatter. Overall, I feel this bill serves to further elevate the privileged and conveniently ignore the marginalized.