I was shocked to read Charlotte Allen's recent display of religious bigotry and stereotyping in your paper. Ms. Allen's essay is something that one would expect to find in the "Bible Belt" towns of Shreveport and Bossier City, Louisiana where I live.
But her bigotry wasn't something that I would expect in a major daily newspaper in California.
Instead of criticizing ideas connected to atheism, free-thinking, and naturalistic philosophy, Ms. Allen simply goes to the cheap stereotype ("crashing bores," "atheist victimology," etc).
Imagine if she had done this sort of stereotyping with any other group -- let's say Christians, Jews, Moslems, women, homosexuals, etc. Would the LA Times print unfounded smears about these groups like they did about atheists?
Atheists and other free-thinkers may sound angry but their anger is justified. Given the role that religion (as it is actually practiced and not as it's taught in seminary) has in promoting injustice, ignorance, hatred, war, and terrorism, we can't afford to be unquestioning about religious ideas anymore. Religion is too influential and has the power to hurt too many people to go unquestioned.
For example, Proposition 8 in your state was heavily supported by religious people -- the exit polling showed a strong correlation between church attendance and voting yes on 8. However, atheists and non-religious people didn't support treating some Californians as second-class citizens.
With Charlotte Allen's column in your paper and the recent Proposition 8 vote, it appears that California isn't really that different from a "Bible Belt" state like Louisiana, Texas, or Oklahoma.
You may have better museums, restaurant choices, and entertainment options than we do. But you also appear to have the same religious prejudices that we have in the "Bible Belt." Welcome to the club.
Bossier City, Louisiana
21 May 2009
So Religious Bigotry and Stereotyping is OK if Atheists are the Target? (Response to Charlotte Allen)
Here is my response to Charlotte Allen's recent column in the Los Angeles Times ("Atheists: No God, no reason, just whining," LA Times, 17 May 2009):