There is a minority group in America that is a bigger percentage of the country than blacks or Hispanics. But they are often ignored or derided in public. Almost no politician would ever admit to being one. And they are given no voice in the public arena.
They are the non-religious. A new comprehensive study by The Program on Public Values at Trinity College shows that this group is now a whopping 15% of the country. Mormons by comparison are a puny 1.4% of the population, and people can’t shut up about the Mormons. The Senate Majority Leader is a Mormon, one of the top Republican presidential candidates was Mormon and even HBO has a whole show devoted to them.
Even though the non-religious are more than ten times larger, other than Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA), not one member of Congress would even admit to being in the dreaded minority of non-believers. They are almost never accounted for in any political discussion of religion in the country. The devout view them as amoral at best and destined for eternal damnation at worst. Yet, this kind of abuse and scorn is widely accepted and expected.
And, if God forbid, they should ever fight back and forcefully present their opinions, they are often considered rude and offensive.
I’ve always been amused at the idea that a religious person can say that an atheist will burn in hell as a result of their beliefs, and that is not considered offensive; but if an atheist says that believing in God makes no sense, that is considered deeply offensive. One person is charging the other with faulty logic; the other is charging them with a base immorality that warrants eternal torture. How is the former even vaguely more insulting than the latter?
I have a confession – I am in that 15%! Gasp, shriek. I, too, am in the unspeakable minority. The minority that is not silent by choice but by decision of the people in power. They say we don’t merit a seat at the table. That our views are offensive to the majority, so they cannot be countenanced in polite company, or more importantly, on the Sunday morning talk shows.
But we shall be silent no more! Rise up, my non-religious brothers and sisters. Agnostics, atheists, deists and the religiously indifferent can all join hands, stand up and be counted. Time for the silent minority to roar!
Or in lieu of that, can someone please just recognize that we exist, that we are a legitimate force in American discourse and politics? And for the love of God, stop ignoring us.
Growing up, I heard Nixon call forth the “silent Minority” of folks in small towns, the real America, those with values, to vote…for him, of course. I didn’t know that nearly 40 years later, that silent minority would become the outspoken, obnoxious majority.
The Young Turks