A Few Words on Religious Bigotry
“As a country, I would hope that part of what we’re learning right now is the destructive aspects of loveless godless leadership. Do not elect people that don’t have God and love in their hearts.” ~Will Smith
As someone who has liked Will Smith throughout his career, it was very disappointing to see him spread this bigoted statement on several massive platforms, and receive plenty of adulation for it. I realize it was a misguided attempt at criticizing our current leadership, but that very leadership was empowered and emboldened by believers in God. Will Smith smeared millions of good people, hopefully unintentionally, but when the effects come, intentions are a much lesser concern.
Sadly, Will Smith is far from alone. What’s most disconcerting is that this form of bigotry is one of the last forms that’s still widely socially accepted around the world. Of course racism and sexism are still problems, but at least we’ve reached a point where publicly expressing racism and sexism will draw backlash and repercussions. When bigotry against atheists is publicly expressed, people still mindlessly nod as if it’s just another truism. “Of course godlessness is the problem,” so many people still think. This pernicious ignorance is especially persistent considering the piles upon piles of data that prove otherwise, from disproportionately low atheist criminality and thriving peaceful secular communities, to the brutality of religious history.
Fortunately we can still hide in our skins (unlike other demographics who face bigotry) and be safe for as long as we keep quiet, but how incredibly wrong is it when that must be our recourse? I could at least understand if our beliefs actively caused harm, but they don’t, and the overwhelming evidence shows that they don’t. The unfortunate irony is that a major way for these mischaracterizations to finally fail is for people to not do what’s safe, and speak up, so that others know that the good people they thought were believers actually aren’t. It usually gets in the way of bigotry for a person to get to know someone they would’ve been bigoted against.
Religious people have dominated governments all throughout history, including the US. What Will Smith is suggesting, whether he realizes it or not, is more of the same. We don't need more of the same. We don't need fewer "godless" people. It's clear that we actually need more of them.
Just knowing that there’s still so many people out there who associate immorality with a lack of god belief inspires me to keep resisting religious rhetoric.