You only have to watch television for about 27 seconds before you see a stereotype. The husband who is incompetent in the kitchen. The female who knows nothing about sports. The dumb blonde. The over-bearing boss.
I must confess one of the reasons I do not publicly label myself as an atheist is the stereotype that atheists have loose morals. We live in a smaller community. Everyone goes to church. Sure, some are Catholic, some are Lutheran, and some are Baptist. And we attend each other’s Vacation Bible Schools (to entertain our children as much as possible in the summer) so that’s O.K. It’s fine if you attend St. Mary’s or First Baptist Church, or the Methodist Church—as long as you attend.
But I have heard the lowering of the voices—the pause, before the word “atheist” is spoken. As in: “He’s an…an atheist, ya know.” It is a designation that is not considered positive. Might as well say, “He’s a…a convicted felon, ya know.”
I know exactly what my children’s friends’ parents think. ‘Cause I have heard it. If Bill, down the street, goes to ___ church, then it is just fine for Hank to spend the night with Bill’s son. Because it is safe—Bill goes to church—nothing can happen. But if Bill was an atheist; why, what keeps him from being a child molester? Nothing—that’s what!
We all know stereotypes are wrong. We know fellows who are brilliant in the kitchen. My wife knows basketball far better than I ever could. We have seen smart blondes, and nice bosses. Unfortunately we treat the non-stereotypes as exceptions; different than the norm.
How many times have I read how some atheists can live moral lives? As if we are straining to keep what few morals we have left with But the rest of those atheists are wallowing in ethical voids.
So—am I wrong? Is it only me that sees this? If not—how do I change it?